Health IT IT contract opens for bidders

screen capture of site 

WHAT: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are looking for a contractor to handle the IT infrastructure that powers the 2010 health care law.

WHY: After the debacle of in 2013, the administration scrambled to find the right mix of personnel to put the site on operational footing. The problems with the architecture and code of the site were just barely fixable, and a team led by administration fixer Jeffrey Zients and CTO Todd Park toiled alongside contractors to keep online.

In January 2014, Accenture won the contract to operate the Federally Facilitated Marketplace – the health care exchange that contains the plan registration and shopping functions for consumers as well as the back-end reconciliation for insurance carriers. Accenture's contract, won on a limited-source basis, was for only one year, and in April contracting documents published on FedBizOpps pointed to the eventual rebid of the work.

On July 16, the new request for proposals went out, and the statement of work points to the planned addition of a few bells and whistles on the site, including an out-of-pocket payment calculator for users comparing plans, as well as new plan templates and benefits summaries. The documents also call for enhancements on the financial management side of the FFM – a part of the site that has lagged in development as efforts focused on the front end for users to sign up for insurance. It's not clear how much of the financial reconciliation with carriers is still being done outside the system, but the new contracting documents call for more advanced calculation and reconciliation functions to process payments to insurers.

Agile is a key requirement. The statement of work specifies that the contractor "shall use an iterative methodology to system development that provides the best opportunity to incrementally build and test software functionality," and a technical approached based on "modular, agile, flexible service based approach to systems enhancement, including use of open interfaces, open source software, and exposed application programming interfaces supported as web services; the separation of business rules from core programming; and the availability of business rules in both human and machine readable formats."

Accenture declined to comment on whether it planned to retain the FFM contract.

Click here to read the full RFP.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Mon, Jul 21, 2014

"The problems with the architecture and code of the site were just barely fixable..." You base this conclusion on what?

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