With the shaky start-up of the new Affordable Care Act website, HealthCare.gov and many other problems this site has encountered since its inception, the Obama administration decided a different website developer/contractor was needed to get the site running properly.
The problem though is that the administration is relying on the consulting firm Accenture to lead the continued construction and maintenance of HealthCare.gov, and they have a history of questionable ethical practices as well as performance problems.
For example, last year Accenture was hired by the state of North Carolina to streamline their computer program for its food stamp program. The program worked so poorly, however, that it led to a backlog of food stamp distribution to NC's needy.
And this is just one example, which was detailed in a Washington Post report.
Regardless of their sketchy past, the Obama administration granted Accenture a contract worth approximately $90 million to fix the problematic Affordable Care website.
The University of Michigan is seeing students and faculty members protesting the school’s use of Accenture to help cut costs, after a report by a committee of alumni and graduate students that said the firm has “a disturbing pattern of problematic past performance.”
The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General’s Office wrote recently, that Accenture had “demonstrated an absence of business ethics” and stated that the agency should consider terminating the firm’s more than $200 million in contracts.
Accenture has agreed to pay the United States $63.675 million to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit, the Justice Department announced recently. The lawsuit alleges that Accenture was involved in false claims for payment under many contracts with agencies of the United States for information technology services.
"Kickbacks and bid rigging undermine the integrity of the federal procurement process," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Division. "At a time when we're looking for ways to reduce our public spending, it is especially important to ensure that government contractors play by the rules and don't waste precious taxpayer dollars."
Accenture will be in charge of not only improving the current site, but also preparing it for open enrollment next fall.
“We are honored to be part of the team of technology and healthcare companies and government professionals helping the federal government meet the healthcare coverage needs of its citizens,” said David Moskovitz, the chief executive of Accenture's federal services. “Accenture will bring deep healthcare industry insight as well as proven experience building large-scale, public-facing websites to continue improving HealthCare.gov."
One can only hope this information does not lead to further HealthCare.gov problems, and that the previous and present problems are remedied.
Image via Wikimedia Commons