OIG Report Finds CMS Inadequately Prepared for HealthCare.gov Launch in 2013

The launch of HealthCare.gov will likely always be remember for the numerous glitches and flaws that bogged down enrollment and the question of who is really to blame for the poor rollout remains.

The launch of HealthCare.gov will likely always be remember for the numerous glitches and flaws that bogged down enrollment and the question of who is really to blame for the poor rollout remains. However, a new report for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) lays a large amount of blame squarely on CMS.

The “Federal Marketplace: Inadequacies in Contract Planning and Procurement” report from OIG determined that CMS did not prepare adequately for the launch of HealthCare.gov.

“The troubled launch of the Federal Marketplace at HealthCare.gov in October 2013 raised a number of concerns, including questions about the adequacy of CMS’s planning and procurement efforts for this key project under the Affordable Care Act,” according to the report.

OIG investigators reviewed documentation from CMS for the 60 contracts made to launch the federal Marketplace and selected 6 key contracts for in-depth review. They concluded that CMS did not always meet contracting requirements, such as developing an overarching acquisition strategy or performing all required oversight activities, when awarding contracts for the Marketplace.

OIG made 6 recommendations, all of with which HHS and CMS concurred:

  • CMS should ensure that acquisition strategies are completed as required by the HHS Acquisition Regulation (HHSAR);
  • CMS should assess whether to assign a lead systems integrator for complex information technology projects involving multiple contractors;
  • CMS should ensure that contract actions are supported by required documentation;
  • CMS should ensure that all contracts that are subject to its Contract Review Board requirements undergo these reviews;
  • HHS should review the HHSAR to limit or eliminate certain exceptions to developing a written acquisition plan; and
  • HHS should revise its guidance to include specific standards for conducting past performance reviews of companies under consideration during contract procurement.

“The complexity of the Federal Marketplace underscored the need for CMS to select the most qualified contractors,” the investigators wrote. “However, CMS did not perform thorough reviews of contractor past performance when awarding two key contracts.”