Sunday, 27 Oct 2013 06:15 PM
By Jennifer G. Hickey
CGI Federal, which secured a $678 million no-bid contract to build the Obamacare exchange web portal, has come under increased scrutiny for ties between senior executives and the Obama administration following the disastrous rollout of the healthcare website.
Toni Townes-Whitley, a senior vice president at CGI Federal, is a Princeton classmate of First Lady Michelle Obama, the Daily Caller reported. In addition to being college classmates, both Obama and Townes-Whitley are members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.
According to Federal Election Commission Records, Toni Townes-Whitley gave $500 in 2011 and 2012 to Obama’s reelection, and another $1,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.
Close access to the White House was also enjoyed by other senior CGI officials, reports The Washington Examiner.
The Examiner reported that visitor logs show that “CGI Federal President Donna Ryan visited the White House six times prior to her company being selected to do the IT design work behind the high-profile website.”
“Two of the meetings attended by CGI executives were with Vivek Kundra, Obama’s chief information officer. Kundra was a key figure in Obama administration information technology initiatives across the government,” the paper reported.
In addition to the $88 million contract awarded to CGI Federal for the health-insurance exchange website, the company has received a total of $422 million in contracts related to Obamacare since the legislation was signed into law, according to Bloomberg News.
Fox News reported a number of occasions in which the company had failed to meet deadlines or experienced botched launches similar to that seen with the launch of healthcare.gov.
“In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance,” Fox reported.
Despite the problems with other projects, the company has been awarded numerous government contracts from other federal departments.
In April, CGI Federal was awarded a five-year contract worth a total of $11 billion from the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard for Technical, Acquisition and Business Support Services (TABSS), according to Washington Executive magazine.
CGI Federal is also assisting the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the distributing of $1.7 billion relief aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, the Daily Caller reported.
In 2012, the company also won contracts worth $15 million with the Environmental Protection Agency and $900 million contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development to design and operate its IT security operations.
While the administration continues to state that the Obamacare website “glitches” will be fixed in the coming months, congressional committees are launching multiple investigations into how CGI Federal and other contractors won million-dollar bids and “who knew what and when” there were problems with the website development.
On October 23, the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Committee sent letters to the 55 contractors, including CGI Federal, who received between $400 million and $600 million to develop the federal exchange and the federal data services hub.
The committee is seeking “a detailed explanation of the number, types and amounts of contracts awarded to each company, all communications between the companies and the White House or HHS, and a detailed list of all meetings related to Obamacare implementation.”
Committee inquiries also were announced in the Senate. On October 24, Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Charles Grassley of Iowa sent letters to the 47 companies who received contracts related to the development of the website requesting “a detailed analysis of the work each contractor has performed to date, the cost of that work, and timelines and deliverables that the entities had to meet for CMS as part of their scope of work in the development and creation of the website.”
Separate from the House committee request, Issa and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., issued letters requesting HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provide documents to them by October 28 or face the possibility of a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee.
Issa and Alexander said Sebelius’ failure to respond was troubling particularly since she has “been a frequent guest on numerous news and television comedy programs subsequent to October 1, 2013. It is unacceptable that you are providing information to numerous other outlets, but not to Congress.”
Sebelius is scheduled to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on October 30 to answer questions about the failed roll-out.
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