Health IT

Booz Allen tapped for $202 million HealthCare.gov contract

Healthcare.gov snapshot

HealthCare.gov is getting a new general contractor.

Booz Allen won a $202 million contract to act as integrator for the system of systems that goes by the catchall name of HealthCare.gov. The firm will be in charge with making sure all the different parts of the system --including the Federally Facilitated Marketplace where users shop for coverage, the Data Hub that feeds eligibility information from across federal agencies, an identity management system that controls user registration and updates, and connections to insurance issuers and the exchanges in those states that run their own systems -- function as intended

The various federal pieces themselves are handled under separate contracts. Accenture, for example, took over the Marketplace site duties in a special procurement not long after the ill-fated October 2013 launch of HealthCare.gov.

The Booz Allen contact is for one base year and four option years, and runs through 2020. Booz announced the news on Aug. 10.

Incumbent general contractor Quality Software Services Inc., a unit of insurance carrier United Health, is currently performing integration duties on the HealthCare.gov system as part of a $23 million extension signed in March 2015. That deal expires at the end of October 2015, and may have to be re-extended.

Separately, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services announced on Aug. 10 an $8 million, eight-month extension for QSSI, a unit of insurance carrier United Health, to continue to conduct testing and quality assurance on the HealthCare.gov system through the end of March 2016. This includes the open enrollment period beginning Oct. 1, 2015.

In contracting documents, CMS said that the extension was necessary because of delays in the procurement as well as a pair of protests against the award winner. Those are not expected to be resolved until October 2015 at the earliest.

"Discontinuance of the testing work would create an untenable gap" in the prep for the upcoming open enrollment season, according to contracting documents. HealthCare.gov needs a round of component tests, stress tests to see how the system handles traffic spikes, as well as end-to-end testing of the entire system. Additionally, CMS asserted that the award of a new contract so close to open enrollment would pose " unacceptable risks to Marketplace stability," in light of planned modifications to key subsystems -- including the SHOP function that allows small businesses to offer coverage to employees.

QSSI is the former employer of current CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who used to head the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in March objecting to the "risk of conflicts of interest" arising from Slavitt's leadership of an agency that paid QSSI almost $100 million over the last few years.

"The multiple relationships between Mr. Slavitt and United subsidiaries raise real concerns about how, and to what extent, CMS has prevented conflicts of interest given the fact CMS makes decisions that impact United and its subsidiaries every day," Hatch wrote in March 2015.

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 and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

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


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