Company chosen to fix healthcare.gov as bad as CGI
When CMS fired CGI from its role as main contractor for the healthcare.gov website and replaced them with consulting gian Accenture, many in the administration breathed a sigh of relief. They thought they had solved their most pressing problem - find someone who could fix the website and make it work as it's supposed to.
It turns out, however, the Accenture has its own problematic track record, that includes charges of fraud, as well as high profile failures in building government websites.
Federal officials have also on occasion criticized the company's integrity. The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General's Office wrote in June that Accenture had "demonstrated an absence of business ethics" and said that the agency should consider terminating the firm's more than $200 million in contracts. The office cited in part a 2011 settlement with the Justice Department in which Accenture paid $63 million to resolve allegations of what the government called "kickbacks" and "bid-rigging" in numerous federal contracts. The company denied wrongdoing in the case.
Between 2004 and 2007, the Pentagon and four states canceled Accenture contracts to develop online voting or voter-registration systems, citing problems such as software flaws and inadequate computer security. At the time, Accenture defended its work on the projects, and in some instances blamed state officials or workers for the difficulties.
In Texas, state officials encountered difficulties with an Accenture contract to operate call centers to process social-service benefits applications. The system led to "massive delays" in access to food stamps and health care for hundreds of thousands of low-
income residents, said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.
In the District, an Accenture-developed city tax office computer system often incorrectly calculated penalties and interest for tax bills, according to a 2006 report by the Wendell Group, an outside IT firm. "Accenture has provided a poorly designed tax accounting system and mismanaged this poor design," said the report, which also blamed District officials for poor oversight.
Accenture's occasional problems also extended to the federal level. A 2007 report by the Interior Department's inspector general blasted the firm's work on a computer system for the Minerals Management Service, which regulated the oil industry. One accountant told auditors that the system took 15 times as long as the one it replaced.
The inspector general at the time, Earl Devaney, recalled in an interview that he "could not understand why Accenture had not been thrown out the door. Millions of dollars, and they still hadn't gotten this up and running after all that time.''
Gee - what's not to like?
With the guts of the Obamacare website still not built, Accenture will have plenty of opportunities to screw up. And if they do, the president has got their back. No doubt, if problems persist, he will simply declare the next deadline obsolete and arbitrarily set a new one.
But the real advantage for Accenture is that Obamacare is so bad, it's difficult to screw things up any more than they already have been.