The contractors behind the widely panned healthcare.gov web site — including CGI Federal — go before a Congressional panel Thursday.
They’ll face plenty of questions, so we asked a few observers what they wanted to hear from the firms:
David Van Slyke, Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government, Syracuse University: What’s the governance structure that you agreed to with your government counterparts to ensure absolute alignment across all these contractors – in terms of how this system was being built? How did you understand that? How was that communicated? How frequently did you meet? And who had authority to make decisions?
David Hendel, Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP: Success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan. “How could the process be improved?” That’s a good question. But if we are going to be throwing blame around, that’s just not going to get you anywhere.
Paul Light, Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service, New York University: Here’s a trick question: I would ask the prime contractors who the chief information officer at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services is, and who the chief information officer of the Department of Health and Human Services is. And you know what their answer would be, in all likelihood? I would give you odds on it… The answer to that question will be, “We don’t know.” We have so many silos in the federal government, you might ask those people a second trick question: “How many different agencies did you have to report to inside the department of Health and Human Services to get answers to any questions?”
Steve Ryan, Head of the Government Strategies Practice Group, McDermott Will & Emery: I think the first and most important question is: “Were these contracts sole source?” Who is responsible for the problems? How are they going to make it right?
Charles Tiefer, Professor of Government Contracting, University of Baltimore Law School: I would want to ask CGI – and it could give an objective answer on this: “Was this project underfunded from the beginning?” The original figure, on the order of $90 million to do CGI’s part of it, was very low. And so, maybe they would be able to say, “Well, if it had more money spent on it earlier, it would have gone better.”
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