On Jan. 10, it was revealed that CGI Group’s contract will not be renewed next month, and Accenture will take over as lead operator of the health insurance marketplace, the cornerstone of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Federal health officials are expected next week to sign a 12-month, $90 million contract with the new contractor. Accenture, which is one of the world’s largest consulting firms, with head offices in Dublin, Ireland and Chicago, Ill., declined to comment on the deal.
A spokesperson for CGI Group said the company was “proud” of the work it did to fix the problems with the healthcare portal between its launch on Oct. 1, and December, when the website began operating more smoothly. Today, the website’s performance and functionality are much improved, but remain flawed as work continues.
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Despite flaws, more than 1 million people have signed up for health insurance through the federal portal since launch, and another million have signed up through state portals, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Though the cost of Healthcare.gov is unknown, some estimate its cost at as little as $70 million, while others pin it closer to half a billion dollars. An infographic from Information is Beautiful shows that the amount of computer code that makes up HealthCare.gov is several times more than the amount of code in the DNA of a live mouse.
The huge code base will be turned over to the new contractor, which will be expected to deliver the functionality and easy user experience that CGI Group failed to deliver. Anonymous sources told the Washington Post that the White House was frustrated with the slow pace at which CGI Group was fixing the portal. Similar problems in development have been reported since the company was first contracted in 2011.
HealthCare.gov's bumpy launch has led to court hearings and officials losing their jobs, not to mention political jockeying as many Republicans hold up the website as an emblem of what they see the Affordable Care Act to be: a failure. Others are being more patient, and some Democrats have proposed bills that would push back Affordable Care Act requirements, worried that the absence of a solid website could jeopardize the legitimacy of the president’s keystone legislation.