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.


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Politician:

“Forty-seven million dollars here, forty-seven million dollars there, & eventually you’re talking a lot of money.”

itsnotaboutme on December 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM

What difference does it make. Sincerely, Killary

22044 on December 11, 2013 at 5:18 PM

“…Not yet, but eventually.”

itsnotaboutme on December 11, 2013 at 5:18 PM

She’s specifically asking for pointers on how to comply with the FARs. Any “IG” who really is independent should pick up on that at first glance.

But when you get right down to it, the IGs report will only say something like this:

Finding #1: Install door and functional latch. This will keep the horse from running away in the first place.

BobMbx on December 11, 2013 at 5:19 PM

“BTW, I’m from Kansas. If you could throw a little farm subsidy our way too, that’d be great.”

NoPain on December 11, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Speaking on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the number is now $677 million.

O_O

For an unfinished hack of a system.

Bitter Clinger on December 11, 2013 at 5:25 PM

“Fourth, I’ve made sure to s**tcan every shred of incriminating evidence, and threaten every possible witness or participant in our raging, politically motivated incompetence, in order to ensure our political survival and the guiltless enjoyment of our big, fluffy pensions for decades to come.”

–Cruella Sibelius

orangemtl on December 11, 2013 at 5:25 PM

So not only is nobody getting fired, they are actually hiring more people? We’ve reached the core of Obamanomics at last: snowballing incompetence requires snowballing risk management hiring.

JeremiahJohnson on December 11, 2013 at 5:31 PM

“I’ve ordered the creation of a new risk manager who will oversee the system and provide a convenient fall-guy for future problems with DeathCare so I can remain blameless.”

Frau Mengele-Syphilis

Bishop on December 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM

The worst thing about this whole website fiasco is that a group of students from any Web Design program at any Junior College in the United States could have done a better job at this, for free, than the US government did.

I’d lay down serious money on this.

Come to think of it, I guess I did.

trigon on December 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Hey, is it true that Sebelius is also the official sign languagee interpreter at cabinet meetings?

Remember IBM offered to do this job for free. They might still, if they’re allowed to start from scratch. That might be a much better course than continuing to throw good money after bad for a program that only has about twelve people signed up for it.

MTF on December 11, 2013 at 5:37 PM

You just know, with all the money wasted on this, Cyber-Kathy got herself an entire closet-full of Dalmation puppy fur coats. Full length ones.

trigon on December 11, 2013 at 5:39 PM

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.

Get the Canadian Mounties on that…

*blech*

workingclass artist on December 11, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Clearly what’s needed is more money and power for HHS. Because, as the saying goes, the only way to fix failed marxist policies is more marxist policies.

Browndog on December 11, 2013 at 5:53 PM

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.

Don’t you want to talk to Michelle about this first? After all, it was her BFF who’s company got the no-bid contract.

We will take action to address the Inspector General’s findings.

Yeah, just like King Barack and Eric Holder “took action” at the IRS.

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 person’s job will be to find a fall guy every time I screw up.

Third, we will update and expand CMS employee training on best practices for contractor and procurement management, rules and procedures.

Damned employees! When will they learn to STFU! about where and from who of our friends we purchase anything.

GarandFan on December 11, 2013 at 6:00 PM

No worries, Paul Ryan will make sure they get all the money they need to keep it running.

xblade on December 11, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Erika sweetheart, I adore your persistance. Enjoy all of your posts. But we are in a new dimension where it takes 3-6 zeros after that number to even matter. I know it all adds up. I get that.In normal times that would apply.

These aren’t normal times.

wolly4321 on December 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Bishop on December 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Good post. No.. Awesome post.

SparkPlug on December 11, 2013 at 6:33 PM

But who will investigate the investigators? Who?

SparkPlug on December 11, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Bishop on December 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Good post. No.. Awesome post.

SparkPlug on December 11, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Yup..Paul Walker and Bishop…2 of Wisconsin’s finest.

BigWyo on December 11, 2013 at 6:43 PM

JESUS~~~

Scott Walker.

BigWyo on December 11, 2013 at 6:49 PM

they waste OUR money, and they are not held accountable. no punishment, no jail, no fine, nothing. they just get away with it. carelessly throwing our money around like it’s nothing. amazing!!

Sachiko on December 11, 2013 at 6:58 PM

We’ll solve this big-government problem by hiring additional people.

GaltBlvnAtty on December 11, 2013 at 7:12 PM

First, I have asked our Inspector General, Dan Levinson, to review the development of HealthCare.gov.

Translation: We are jockeying our position in order to throw CMS under the bus should the heat from this debacle continue. Because it certainly isn’t going to be our fault.

ghostwalker1 on December 11, 2013 at 7:42 PM

“NOW can we give Cruella the heave-ho?”

mojo on December 11, 2013 at 9:16 PM

…it’s just money!…what’s it worth?

KOOLAID2 on December 11, 2013 at 10:16 PM

“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.”

Hey. Quit griping. Once they’re done spending all that money, we all get better Healthcare for free.

Tsar of Earth on December 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM