CGI, the company behind the failed Obamacare website

With the disastrous website roll out,  the questions keep mounting on how did CGI even get the multi million dollar contract. Photo: Affordable Care Act website/

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2013 — Since the rollout on the first day of October of the Obamacare website, the information technology has been a disaster.

It was a system that the President claimed millions of people would go to in search of health insurance yet the website was unable to handle millions of users.

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CGI Federal is the company that was the designated lead on creating and maintaining the website portal for the Affordable Care Act. By all accounts, CGI has failed to accomplish that task, despite having been paid $54 million to do so.

Some have started to question how and why a little known company was awarded such a high profile contract.

CGI is a Montreal headquartered information technology company founded in 1976 by two Canadians in their mid 20s, Serge Godin and Andre Imbeau.

Through a series of small company acquisitions they grew large enough to bid on and be awarded large contracts, including $1.4 billion in awards by the United States government.

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In 2010, CGI purchased American military IT company Stanley, Inc. for $1.1 billion, which was the start of highly accelerated U.S. government contract work.

CGI previously worked on healthcare sites in Canada, although its results were questionable. According to the Washington Examiner, Ehealth, Canada’s medical agency, ultimately eliminated its medical registry for diabetics in the nation after CGI became 14 months behind schedule and missed three years of deadlines.

The IT company’s $46.2 million contract was cancelled by Ehealth on September 5, 2012.

Based on CGI’s poor prior experience in the health services in Canada, some conservative news sources have started questioning the award process for this contract to create the website. They have even questioned whether any other companies bid on the job. 

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The Department of Health and Human Services has denied that there was only one bidder for the Obamacare exchange.

According to an information technology manager, government contracts are often awarded based on lowest price.

Although lowest bid can be a final deciding factor, pre-existing relationship with the government agency and prior similar work is also highly regarded in the federal contracts decision process.

According to a source who is involved in writing proposals to compete for federal work, even if there were only one company that submitted a proposal for requested work by the government, the U.S. government is not supposed to award to that company. Instead, it is required to hold a competition and, therefore, another request for proposal (RFP) would need to be generated.

Although the source did clarify that if a company is already doing similar work for an agency, a contact can be awarded to that company to expand that work. published the contract award to CGI Federal which seems to show that the government awarded the contract to CGI after receiving bids from four companies. This suggests there was in fact a competition for the contract.

As far as the effect on CGI so far, their failure on such a high profile project has seemed to have had very little impact.

In the past month, the CGI Group (USA) stock price has hardly changed at all with a high just over $37 and low of $35 and the high being hit on October 16, sixteen days after the unsuccessful start date of the website.

It is yet to be seen if the publicity this failure has received will affect CGI Federal from receiving additional federal contracts.

At a press conference, President Obama called for CGI to bring in their “A-Team” to resolve these computer problems.  In the meantime, he encouraged those who have been unable to access information through the website to instead access the information through a call center with a phone number.

Even the phone number comes with challenges. Two of the security questions required during the initial phone call are:

  • The name of maternal grandfather. Some callers need a few minutes to recall that name.  
  • Name of favorite video game. Another question that could give some callers pause.

According to a gentleman who went through the phone process and was interviewed by The Blaze, even when the phone call is completed, the caller’s coverage status is unclear. There will be an email or letter arriving by postal service to inform the applicant of their coverage status.

The parking lot at the CGI building on Fair Lakes Parkway in Fairfax, Virginia has been full over the past few days. It appears more workers are coming in to the main building off of other projects to get this system up and running.

Senator Marco Rubio has announced that he is going to introduce a bill requiring the Affordable Care Act be shut down until the website is up and running and is glitch free for a period of six months.

All will be watching to see if those who originally tried to access information or receive information from the malfunctioning website, continue to jump through the hoops required or if they will become discouraged and give up.



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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.


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