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View Diary: Robert Gibbs is right. Heads must roll. (332 comments)

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  •  There was no bid (8+ / 0-)
    "The contract for wasn’t a fully competitive process. In fact, there was no competition for it at all. To get the work done, the Department of Health and Human Services used an existing contract it already had with CGI Federal to get the work done. The contract, as they say, was 'greased.'

    So why was it greased? Technically, 'greasing' something means reducing its friction. Running a public procurement of this size, and visibility — it would probably take at least 18 months just to get through the procurement process and start the job. The awarded contract would almost assuredly get protested by those who didn’t win, and it would yield to a very public, very political, and probably very bad outcome.

    So what they did instead, and very rationally, is they opted to take a contract that they already had — one with CGI Federal — and amended that contract to add the stuff onto it. CGI had already built some of the systems that would depend upon, and already had 'boots on the ground' as it were. So giving the contract to this vendor for this kind of work 'just made sense' if you wanted to get a website done in time." — source

    The article goes on to discuss several reasons why there have been some serious problems. It's a good read.

    "Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing." — Naomi Shihab Nye

    by Icarus Diving on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:24:43 PM PDT

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    •  If it was bid...a FOIA request can get (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cville townie

      all of the proposals and the RFP.  I am sure the requests have already been submitted.

      The talking point came from a Washington Examiner column (a Washington Times offshoot).

      CGI was one of 16 companies that had been qualified by HHS during President George W. Bush's second term to deliver, without public competition, a variety of hardware, software and communication products and services.

      In awarding the contract, CMS relied on a little-known federal contracting system called ID/IQ, which is government jargon for “Indefinite Delivery and Indefinite Quantity.”

      CGI was a much smaller vendor when it was approved by HHS in 2007. With the approval, CGI became eligible for multiple awards without public notice and in circumvention of the normal competitive bidding procurement process.

      We will see who winds up being right.  But from experience, that doesn't sound out of the realm of possibility.  And could be true, if other parts were bid competitively.

      "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

      by justmy2 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:48:46 PM PDT

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    •  given to companies that already had contracts with (4+ / 0-)

      Good source - thanks. So the work was awarded to a company in which HHS/Medicare-Medicaid already had a general contract for IT services with, from a prior bid process.

      If you follow one of the links in the article

      This contract was competed under the Enterprise System Develoment IDIQ.   The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) intends to modify the PECOS contract to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) requiremnts for the Development, Maintenance and Enhancements of HITECH Registration, Attestation and Inquiry Functionalities.  This work is already on the contract, the modification will incorporate costs for the option years.

      "If they're shooting at you, you know you must be doing something right"

      by ayjaymay on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:51:27 PM PDT

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    •  By the way...the other elephant in the room (8+ / 0-)

      that I have yet to see mentioned.

      When the requirements were written, no one likely believed so many states would turn down free money (another dumb mistake by the WH who failed to see they were not going against a rational opposition).  This means that more than likely the capacity/volume estimates were likely orders of magnitude off.  However, from the articles I have read, volume is likely only a minor issue.  It looks like the underlying systems, and potentially the databases and applications they integrate with were never built for this type of scale.  One bottleneck can bring the whole thing to its knees.

      "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

      by justmy2 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:52:26 PM PDT

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    •  As someone that knows something about the process (4+ / 0-)

      that article is deadly accurate.  And it shows why some of the issues are a product of process, some a product of administration decisions.

      "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

      by justmy2 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 01:04:38 PM PDT

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      •  "A Ridiculous, Paranoid Theory" (0+ / 0-)

        Avik Roy does not understand Democrats!

        A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

        This is idiotic, just idiotic.

        To calculate subsidies, the Exchange just needs some parameters or, in the vulgate, some boxes to fill in on the online form: Income, for example. Those parameters do not need to be validated -- and it's validation, not eligibility calculation, that is the cause of the bottleneck.* Just feed some fake parameters to the eligibility engine, and get back a number.

        Worse, Roy misunderstands how Democrats operate. Democrats hide information -- or, even better, allow others to hide it -- with obfuscation and artificial complexity; for example, the in- and out-of-network gotchas Dromaius has been documenting. They aren't crude, and the approach Roy imputes to them is crude (rather like asking a voter for a photo ID, in fact).

        I don't know why that design decision was made, but I do speculate that to the campaign operatives who ran the show from the West Wing, getting somebody's ID first was utterly natural; it's how campaign sites work. Can't send 'em the newsletter or hit them up for money with no email address!

        One must wonder why you can't get quotes without all the invasive inquiries.
    •  IDIQ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Icarus Diving

      I think folks are mixing up a few things...and may be getting the terminology wrong.  It looks as though there was an existing contracting vehicle for IT services.  An Indefinite Quantity/Indefinite Delivery (IDIQ) contract is a mechanism that preselects a group of technically competent performers for a related set of activities.  Individual Task Orders (TOs) are then competed through the IDIQ.  This is a COMMON mechanism that is used and there is absolutely nothing nefarious about it.  Being put on the IDIQ short list is critical and then the individual TOs don't require a full and open competition...only the pre-selected teams that have been previously deemed competent to perform the work can bid.  In the contractor lingo it is called "a license to hunt."  Being down selected is no guarantee of a TO award...indeed, some IDIQs have stipulations that if a company doesn't win a TO within a certain time period, they are deemed ineligible and removed from the vehicle.

      If the work was deemed appropriate for that standing mechanism, it is proper to use an IDIQ because to be "down selected" as one of the IDIQ performers, the team has already passed the technical and cost evaluations.  

      Also, I don't know many that use the term "greased."  If something is directed to a particular contractor, it is called "wired."  There are ways you can guess if something is "wired"...a short deadline, a ridiculously specific statement of work, or a specific key personnel requirements.  

      My guess is, this was an existing IT IDIQ and CGI Federal was the only team that could respond to the TO.  Too bad is only searchable out to 365 days.  If there was a solicitation and award within that time frame, it would have been archived and visible.  

      But I could be wrong...

      I went into science for the money and the sex. Imagine my surprise.

      by Mote Dai on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 08:55:34 PM PDT

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