No big: HealthCare.Gov’s pricetag up by $47 million and counting
posted at 5:11 pm on December 11, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
In rolling out their crowning legislative achievement, the Obama administration’s dazzling showcase of the depths to which big-government ineptitude can sink has had not merely practical implications for ObamaCare’s brave new world, but financial implications for the program’s intended budget — at least 47 million of them to date, actually. CNN reports that the “increase in the total amount obligated” for IT costs has gone up by $47 million since the last Congressional check-in:
An official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that oversees the site, could not immediately explain the reason for the additional cost. But the official confirmed the amount of money “obligated” by the Obama administration for IT costs has increased in the past month.
Here’s the math:
In October, CMS Spokeswoman Julie Bataille said the total obligated for IT costs associated with the federal marketplace was “in the neighborhood of about $630 million.” Speaking on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the number is now $677 million. …
A CMS official told CNN the cost increase was due to more recent numbers, rather than a drastic increase in IT spending.
…Perhaps, but one might reasonably wonder whether those numbers will be in for future “updates” as we continue to just roll merrily right along through this indefinite episode of incompetence and obfuscation.
President Barack Obama’s health agency said it has spent $319 million building an online health-insurance marketplace through October.
More than three years after the passage of Obama’s signature health-care law in 2010, it’s almost impossible to verify and track that spending through public records.
What the estimates don’t include is the around-the-clock effort to repair the website, which hundreds of thousands of Americans found unusable after its Oct. 1 debut. The race to fix it brought in computer engineers from companies such as Google Inc., Red Hat Inc. and Oracle Corp. and is ongoing today.
But never fear, ya’ll. Because Sebelius believes so very strongly in “accountability, and in the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” she recommended what I’m sure are three highly serious, committed steps to getting to the bottom of why the “launch of HealthCare.gov was flawed and simply unacceptable” in a blog post published by HHS before her Congressional hearing this morning, including a self-policing investigation and creating yet another position for crisis management:
First, I have asked our Inspector General, Dan Levinson, toreview the development of HealthCare.gov. We need a thorough review of the contractor performance and program management structure that resulted in the flawed launch of the website. I am asking the Inspector General to review the acquisition process, overall program management, and contractor performance and payment issues related to the development and management of the HealthCare.gov website.
We will take action to address the Inspector General’s findings.
Second, I have asked CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to create a new position and appoint a CMS Chief Risk Officer, who will focus on mitigating risk across CMS’s programs. This will be a full time, permanent position. The Chief Risk Officer will work across CMS to asses risk management practices associated with major agency initiatives. This individual will lead efforts to prepare mitigation strategies to minimize those risks, and will develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of those strategies.
The Chief Risk Officer’s first assignment will be to review risk management practices when it comes to IT acquisition and contracting, starting with identifying the risk factors that impeded the successful launch of the HealthCare.gov website. I will ask this individual to report back to me in 60 days with recommendations for strategies to mitigate risks in future large-scale, CMS contracting and IT acquisition projects.
Third, we will update and expand CMS employee training on best practices for contractor and procurement management, rules and procedures. We will expand the scope and content of employee training to ensure that all CMS employees are getting the most extensive and up to date guidance — on a regular basis — for managing projects undertaken through contractors, including best practices for internal communications and processes.
We anticipate that successful risk prevention and mitigation strategies, as well as training updates, will be shared across all HHS agencies.
Well, that should certainly do it — the same bureaucracy that couldn’t competently roll out its most important website, is going to investigate why it couldn’t competently roll out its most important website. Perfect.