Developer of problem-plagued ACA website has $110M state computer contract
10/24/2013 - The Charleston Gazette. By Eric Eyre.
CHARLESTON - The main contractor behind the problem-plagued federal health insurance exchange website is the same Canadian company that has a $110 million contract to design a computer system that will manage all West Virginia state government accounts.
But state officials say CGI Group Inc. has assigned separate divisions to the state and federal projects.
CGI's Public Sector group is handling the West Virginia state government computer system overhaul -- also known as "WV OASIS" and "Enterprise Resource Planning."
Meanwhile, CGI Federal -- a subsidiary of CGI Group -- developed the federal website, which has been plagued by numerous technical problems that have prevented people from signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
"We're not working with CGI Federal," said Traci Phillips, communications director for WV OASIS.
The state's contract with Montreal-based CGI includes provisions to ensure the technology company is held accountable if something goes wrong with the West Virginia government computer system.
Under the contract, the state can withhold up to 15 percent of the money it owes CGI at different stages of the project, if the state isn't satisfied with the firm's work.
"We have safeguards in place," Phillips said.
The state government computer system, which will allow state agencies to share financial information, data and a host of records, is expected to be fully up and running in 2015. The state Department of Transportation will start using part of the computer system in January.
"There will be different parts of it that will be working at different times," Phillips said.
State agencies now operate 100 separate accounting and management programs. The CGI-developed system will replace most of those. The company has a 10-year contract.
President Barack Obama has sharply criticized the health insurance website developed by CGI, saying it's "too slow" and "people have been getting stuck during the application process..."
CGI's defenders have said that the company built the website properly using the federal government's specifications. But problems popped up during "integration work," after CGI handed the project off to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to Canadian media reports.
According to CGI's website, the company has contracts with more than 2,000 government organizations. CGI is the sixth-largest information technology company in the world. The company has 69,000 employees.