CGI warned of HealthCare.gov problems a month before launch, documents show

October 29, 2013
(Mike Segar/Reuters)
(Mike Segar/Reuters)

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released documents Tuesday night showing one of the primary contractors for HealthCare.gov, CGI Federal, warned administration officials the Web site faced problems just weeks before its Oct. 1 launch.

In a monthly report sent to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Sept. 6, CGI officials wrote there were “open risks” and “open issues” that needed to be resolved.

“Due to the compressed schedule, there is not enough time built in to allow for adequate performance testing,” they wrote.

The firm, which was responsible for both constructing key elements of the sites and  helping interweave them, cautioned that “hub services are intermittently unavailable” and the time allotted  for testing was “not adequate to complete full functional, system, and integration testing activities.” They rated problems as “near certainty” and “highly likely” and rated the impact as “significant” or “severe.”

CGI turned over the report to the House panel in response to an Oct.23 letter asking for more information about its contract with CMS and the Web site’s development.

Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement late Tuesday, “This was a document at a point in time that identified issues, and we worked to address those issues and all issues identified.”

“Even within the document, the nearest ‘major milestones’ were seen as ‘on track,’” Peters added. “This report is not a dire warning, but more plausibly a list of things to do if you read it in full – what’s been done, what needs to be done, what needs to be resolved.  It is misleading to cherrypick a few lines.”

Four days after the report’s submission, CGI Federal senior vice president Cheryl Campbell testified before Congress that the Web site’s performance was on target and had passed all its major tests.

“To date, the marketplace implementation has achieved all of its key milestones from the initial architecture review in October 2011 to project baseline review in March 2012 and, most recently, the operational readiness review in September 2013,” she told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Juliet Eilperin is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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