The same Canadian tech firm tasked with building the troubled Obamacare website also developed software for the Canadian federal gun registry, a project that was ultimately scrapped.
The Obama administration awarded the U.S. subsidiary of CGI Federal a $93.7 million contract to construct the website healthcare.gov. But that figure was only part of the $678 million total in health care services contracts that was awarded to the company. Even still, at the launch healthcare.gov operated nominally at best, not at all at worst.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the architecture of the website “appeared to be built on a sloppy software foundation.” However, others would argue that the site and program didn’t get the support it needed in order to be successful.
“People should remember that those who are in charge of the money [Department of Health and Human Services] needs to implement the federal exchange are dedicated to the destruction of the federal exchange, and the destruction of the Affordable Care Act,” Jay Angoff, who formerly ran the health exchange program for the Department of Health and Human Services, told NPR.
In addition to the lack of funds, developers were delayed in actually building the site, NPR reported. Developers sat in a state of limbo as they waited for events that could have significantly altered the future of the Affordable Care Act to pass. Events like the presidential election in November (Republican candidate Mitt Romney vowed to repeal Obamacare if elected) and a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the law. In the end, developers had to rush to get the site done.
In short, it isn’t completely the company’s fault for the website’s shortcomings. In fact, CGI actually has a slew of contracts with the U.S. government, among others, and is running strong in the U.S. market, according to The Washington Post.
But that begs the question, if the company is financially successful, how did it score healthcare.gov and why did the Canadian government end its contract with CGI for the gun registry?
The answer is a combination of government bureaucracy and money.
According to a 2007 article by The Canadian Press, the Canadian government ended the CGI contract after realizing that they had spent too much on it with no end in sight, so it decided to suspend all contracts related to computer programs. The Canadian government paid $81 million to CGI leading up to the cancellation and another $10 million upon cancellation.
As for the U.S. government, once a company is in, it’s in, according to The Washington Post. The Feds already know the quality of the work a it’s already contracted, so it often looks to that company for future contracts. In addition, companies that have already scored a contract with the government will lobby to keep it, which is part of the case now.
CGI is still contracted to get the healthcare.gov up to speed.