Even before the Healthcare.gov website disaster unfolded in October 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had been looking to the future. HHS announced in June of that year that Hewlett-Packard would be replacing Terremark, a Verizon subsidiary, as the main contractor hosting the federal insurance marketplace and data services hub. But more than a year later, HHS has still not been able to complete the transition, because there has not been "adequate time for end to end testing of the entire Marketplace environment." Terremark's system will once again function as the primary site for the 2015 open enrollment period with Hewlett-Packard's system functioning as a "development environment and alternate site for backup."
The plan was revealed in a "out of scope modification" contract award by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the HHS agency in charge of Healthcare.gov. The $15.2 million award comes on top of several other contract extensions, bringing the total for such extensions to well over $100 million. CMS documents say that "[t]his approach will better position CMS to implement a scalable, robust, and secure hosting site for the Open Enrollment period with adequate time for end to end testing of the Marketplace systems." The documents also cite additional security upgrades as part of this extension, plus time for "end to end" testing of the revamped website and backend systems [emphasis added]:
While CMS has successfully migrated several Marketplace systems to HP, CMS has elected to continue to utilize the Verizon Terremark Data Center as the primary site for production infrastructure hosting services through the OE 2015 period for the core Marketplace systems to ensure adequate time for end to end testing of the entire Marketplace environment to validate interoperability and new functionality implemented for the OE 2015 perform properly. During this period, CMS plans on utilizing the HP Virtual Data Center as a development environment and alternate site for backup. The open enrollment period will run from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015...
Joint analysis performed by the CMS, Application Developers, the System Integrator, and the Data Center on the core Marketplace system migration and testing timelines revealed that the full integrated end to end testing could not be completed as individually planned due to interdependencies on other Marketplace systems that would still be in various phases of their migration to HP until mid-August.
The total estimated value of the additional contract services is estimated at $15,188,347.61 and the extension runs through March 31, 2015.