Awarded $1.8 million emergency contract to Verizon less than four weeks before open enrollment9:08 AM, Dec 2, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Less than four weeks before the launch of 2015 open enrollment for Obamacare, the government agency that runs Healthcare.gov suddenly realized the Marketplace site was heading for a repeat of last year's debacle. Documents show that on October 19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Health and Human Services (HHS), learned that a shortage of computer storage would "cause long outages and slow response times" leading to "a poor user experience." An emergency, no-bid contract for $1.8 million was quickly awarded to Terremark (a subsidiary of Verizon) for 100 terabytes of additional storage plus various computer licenses.
Since the order was needed in such a hurry, the government decided to skip the usual bidding process mandated for such a contract, a practice that has not been uncommon in the development of Healthcare.gov to date. The limited source justification that was required and subsequently approved internally at CMS spelled out the consequences of delay in stark terms:
The documents do not disclose how long installation and configuration of the new equipment would take. However, shortly after the problem was discovered on October 19, Healthcare.gov was shutdown for "weekend maintenance" on Wednesday, October 22. It remains unclear if this shutdown was related to the inadequacies CMS discovered, and CMS did not return an email at the time requesting comment.
Terremark/Verizon is actually the outgoing contractor for Healthcare.gov. The government announced in June 2013 that Hewlett-Packard would be replacing Terremark/Verizon. However, launch problems and other delays led to numerous extensions on the Terremark/Verizon contract. Most recently, as we reported in September, CMS disclosed that the Terremark/Verizon system would continue to host Healthcare.gov through 2015 open enrollment with the new Hewlett-Packard system acting only as backup and as a "development environment."
By most accounts, the current open enrollment period is proceeding with few of the problems experienced in the fall of 2013. CMS has undergone some reorganization in the past year, but at least some of the steps spelled out by former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are still unfulfilled. In a December 2013 press appearance, Sebelius announced her intention to create a chief risk officer position at CMS to, in part, oversee future IT (information technology) planning and purchases such as the one described above and prevent unpleasant surprises. However, the position is still vacant and both CMS and HHS have disregarded numerous inquiries about the status of Sebelius's commitment.
8:15 AM, Oct 2, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
After nine years and $247 million, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) new high-tech disaster relief system may not work as intended, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
12:54 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Department of Health and Human Services announces another $60 million for Obamacare navigators, a press release from that federal bureaucracy states.
"The Affordable Care Act is working for millions of Americans who are able to access quality health coverage at a price they can afford, in large part because of the efforts of in-person assisters in local communities across the nation. People shopping for and enrolling in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace can get local help in a number of ways, including through Navigators," reads the release.
Even the sign in button is broken.7:01 AM, Jul 3, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Colorado's 9News reviews its state's Obamacare exchange and finds that it's "clunky, counterintuitive, and confusing." The site was built with a $179 million grant from the federal government, but even the sign in button doesn't work.
9:01 AM, Mar 28, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released details of the latest contract with Terremark Federal Group covering "open market items" required for the ongoing operation of Healthcare.gov.
11:35 AM, Mar 5, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
"Bitcoin" is the most widespread, cryptographically-secure Internet currency. It was created in 2009 by someone (or someones) who referred to themselves as "Satoshi Nakamoto." Once it was released into the wild, the bitcoin currency ecosystem operated on a public, inalterable schedule.
11:03 AM, Jan 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The State Department today publicly announced a $10 million reward "for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual responsible for the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks." The announcement for the reward is posted on rewardsforjustice.net.
9:07 AM, Dec 12, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's agency announced grants of $58 million to 1,157 community health centers to allow them to "expand their enrollment assistance efforts as more Americans enroll in affordable health insurance coverage." These grants come on top of $150 million previously g
2:21 PM, Oct 25, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The Obamacare website Healthcare.gov has been grabbing all the headlines lately, but another aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may come under increased scrutiny in the weeks and months ahead: Electronic Health Records (EHR).
9:39 AM, Oct 23, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
New research from the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee shows that over the last 5 years, the U.S. has spent about $3.7 trillion on welfare. Here's a chart, showing that spending versus transportation, education, and NASA spending:
1:14 PM, Oct 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A week before the government shutdown began, the State Department awarded a $130 million contract to design and build a new embassy compound in the city of NouakChott in the West African nation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which lies between Mali and the Atlantic Ocean. The contract went to Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, after having asked for bids in December 2011:
1:38 PM, Sep 25, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
A new report by the American Action Forum finds that Obamacare exchanges will cost $5.3 billion and 16 million hours in paperwork burdens.
1:35 PM, May 1, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
As the White House first announced in March, Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Mexico and Costa Rica later this week. The trip is billed as "an important opportunity to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America." And at yesterday’s White House press conference, the president stated that he is "very much looking forward to taking the trip down to Mexico" this week.
12:41 PM, Mar 8, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Earlier this week, a listing entitled "Parking Spaces at Democracy Blvd." appeared on the Federal Business Opportunities website. The contract was awarded on February 19th before the sequester took effect, but the timing could still prove embarrassing for the Obama administration.
‹‹ More Recent