Report: Dubious firm in middle of healthcare Web site project

Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:03 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The roster of companies that worked on the wobbly "Obamacare" Web site includes one firm with a dubious record on government IT projects, records showed.

The lead contractor on the Web site, CGI Federal, includes another company that it acquired about 10 years ago with a track record of mishandled government projects, The Washington Post said Saturday.

American Management Systems, based in northern Virginia, was acquired by CGI in 2004 after AMS settled a major lawsuit filed by the government over an IT system for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which ended up $60 million over budget and virtually useless due to allegedly faulty software.

The Post said AMS also allegedly made a hash of projects for the Defense Department, the Philadelphia school system and the state of Wisconsin revenue department.

AMS still has a presence in its new corporate environment. The Post said more than 100 AMS executives currently hold senior jobs or act as consultants to CGI in the Washington area.

CGI's top spokesman, Lorne Gorber, told the Post the bad old days were long behind them, and AMS currently "delivers 95 percent of its projects on time and on budget."

"Anyone at CGI who came from AMS would not be able to find any similarities in how they work today to how they worked a decade ago," Gorber said.

The Post said AMS received a solid endorsement for the healthcare reform project from Earl Devaney, who chaired the board that oversaw President Obama's economic stimulus program. Devaney said he was impressed with work CGI performed in 2009 on a system that collected data in how stimulus money was being spent by the recipients. "The system worked when it was supposed to work,'' Devaney said.

But critics told the Post the AMS legacy should have been a warning to the administration about CGI's ability to tackle the Affordable Care Act Web site. "These should all have been red flags for contract officers," said Daniel Gordon, who ran government procurement policy earlier in the Obama administration and is now an associate dean at George Washington University Law School. Gordon was not involved in awarding the contract to CGI Federal, the Post said.

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