Audit CGI for Healthcare.gov

Healthcare.gov is a nightmare, a nightmare for which the American taxpayers forked over just north of half a billion dollars. Photo: Healthcare.gov

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2013 — Healthcare.gov is a nightmare; there is no getting around it. Not only is it a nightmare but it’s a nightmare for which the American taxpayers forked over just north of half a billion dollars. Half a billion dollars. Remember in September when Nancy Pelosi said that “The cupboard is bare.  There’s no more cuts to make…”

Well perhaps “…there’s no more cuts to make…” because the United States government is run by individuals who allowed for a website to rack up a half a billion dollar price tag. Maybe “there’s no more cuts to make” because people like Pelosi, and Reid, and Feinstein followed President Obama blindly as he increased spending during a recession and has done nothing to increase the strength of the dollar. They have all followed blindly while he spends billions on alternative energy while protecting his friends who stand to lose if the Keystone Pipeline goes through. Someone has to stand up and say enough. Half a billion dollars that we did not have in the first place is money ill spent.

Perhaps it is time to audit the Healtcare.gov website.

Perhaps it is time that we order Congress and CGI to open their books and show us exactly what justified the billing of the equivalent of almost five F-22 Raptors, and before you ask yet it is relevant.

How can a company get away with charging over half a billion dollars for a product that does not work? What costs, what base job costs could CGI have incurred that would conceivably justify such a price tag? Are the Healthcare.gov servers cased in gold and unicorn horn? Does the water fountain dispense the Fountain of Youth? Or more importantly, with so many on the left damning Wall Street “fat cats” with their fancy monocles and sword canes for their over the top bailouts, how about we look at the job expenses that CGI charged for management. Because obviously there was something wrong there, there was either no management which would then negate that particular job cost, or there was the wrong management, in which case people need to be fired and sent to Siberia. Wait we don’t have a Siberia? How about Alaska? Yes, we are socialist leaning enough to where we can ship people off, ship them to Alaska where their only friends will be Arctic Foxes and angry bears wondering why they can’t log into to Healthcare.gov. It will happen, just read The Golden Compass.

You may be asking yourself is this particular writer crazy? How can he make such light of such a terrible situation? The answer is because one has to be able to see the humor in spending the equivalent of the nominal GDP of Samoa. Would you like a website, or an island nation? And yes that is how it works out, get a sense of humor or go live with the bears.

If you look at is from on objective standpoint, you know that CGI was going to milk this big fat Socialist cow for all it was worth. The government was going to be setting up its own healthcare system, and CGI was given a no bid contract to set up the website.

If you are not familiar with government contracting, or contracting of any kind, perhaps a short lesson on what a no-bid contract is. A no-bid contract is the government, or any presiding entity, doling out projects without going through the competitive bid process. Multiple companies are typically given the chance to price a project, forcing them to compete with each other, thus forcing the price down in order to appear more competitive. That is part of a free market capitalist system, the more players at tryouts the harder the players work, the better the team.

But there were no tryouts for this particular team. It’s like they called up a buddy of theirs who they owed a favor to, gave him a spot as designated hitter, but on the way to the plate he trips and hits himself in the head with the bat and knocks himself unconscious. CGI had never had a contract or project this big, so awarding them this particular contract was comparable to putting your roommate in command of NORTHCOM because you saw him play Call of Duty once.

No-bid contracts are one of the reasons government projects are so incredibly costly. Since they do not share the constraints of a private market with their civilian counterparts, a government project that would be one million dollars in the private sector would be three million or more in government works. Private companies are restrained and capped by what they can reasonable expect a managing firm or general contractor to pay, however government projects and entities do not share those restraints. The website for Healthcare.gov was seen as essential, and so it got funding, which probably included almost unlimited change order capacity, individual expenses, no liquidated damages, and no concrete timetable. The last two mean, that if CGI did not meet their goals, they would not be charged damages for every day they are incomplete passed a deadline. In fact, it would not be a stretch to speculate that CGI is as of now incurring no financial damages due to their failure, when a private contractor would certainly be paying a substantial amount of money for being incomplete.

It is not just “no-bid” contracts which empty the government purse, but single or sole sourced projects. Sole sourced projects are where the government, or other entity if private, has mandated that a certain part or piece of the project can only come from one particular source. This is usually because the government or the purchaser would have had a good experience with them in the past, or because they offer what is believed to be the best product.

The problem with that?

Much of the same with no-bid contracts, single sourcing runs up the price. If a company KNOWS that it is going to be selected for a particular job regardless of bid process, and without competition that particular company is going to drastically increase their price. Again, a job that is one million becomes three million.

What’s really the problem with all of this?

They are spending like this, and willing to spend like this, because it’s not their money. They don’t have to see a return on their investment, or justify the expenditure to a board of trustees. Simply put, it’s not their money. The government is perfectly willing to be generous with other people’s money, perfectly willing to be that guy at the bar that orders a double of Pappy Van Winkle and puts it on your tab, perfectly happy paying half a billion dollars and three years to build a website that three 20 year olds in San Francisco built in three days, and they are perfectly happy because no one is going to call them out on it.

So how about we call them out on it?

Audit Healthcare.gov.

Force them, force the lawmakers to order CGI to crack open the books for the website and show the American people why three years and half a billion dollars could not build a working website when three kids could do it in three days. Should we pay them half a billion dollars? By the governments logic we probably should.

Hold them accountable. Nancy Pelosi says that “…there’s just no more cuts to make.” Alright, there’s nothing left to cut, but how about we change the rules going forward. No more “no-bid” contracts, no more “single sourcing,” and public auditing of all expenditures for government projects. They drive the cost of projects up dramatically, making it more expensive, and far more risky for firms to do business.

It is scary to think really what the books would look for Healthcare.gov, it is scary to wonder how a website could possibly take half a billion dollars to build. But that is what happens when you only solicit a bid from one company, and then allow them access to an almost unlimited revenue source. Healthcare.gov was allegedly originally priced at $90 million range, but somehow the ending price tag was a staggering, mammoth $634 million. If that was a private company, CGI would have gone bankrupt through litigation as the project owner sued for their money. But no, CGI is doing better than ever, despite going over their original bid price by roughly oh, 700%.

Can you imagine that?

Can you imagine if you were a small business owner, or even a large business owner, and you contracted a firm to do a job and they went over budget by 700%?

You would audit them. And then you would sue them.

And that is exactly what our representatives should move to do. It was built with public money, it was built to serve the public, and so it deserves public scrutiny.

 

 

 


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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a B.A. from Catholic University in DC in American History, with a concentration on guerrilla warfare on American soil. He has an M.A. in US History from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a concentration on Cold War insurgency. He believes that all news and all information should be taken with a grain of salt, and implores people everywhere to seek news stories everywhere. 

Higgins is also a fervent believer in the traditional role of media, in terms of acting as a balanced check on government policies and individuals regardless of party affiliation. But in the end, he believes that no matter how heated an issue is, there is nothing that can't be discussed over a smoke and some whiskey. 

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