Remember when, to the chagrin of the Obama administration, Healthcare.gov launched in October 2013 only to crash when users tried to sign up for health insurance plans? Part of that failure can now be blamed on government employees' sloppy handling of $600 million in private contracts to construct the website, a new government audit has found, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, hired private companies to build Healthcare.gov, the federal marketplace for healthcare plans under Obamacare through which millions have since enrolled in health insurance coverage. Problems began well before the website's disastrous debut Oct. 1, 2013, with the employees charged with handling those private contracts failing to oversee and manage those companies, the report from the Office of the Inspector General showed.
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The employees themselves were not fully trained, and they failed to monitor companies, their spending and their work on Healthcare.gov, Bloomberg reported. In one instance, five different employees oversaw a single contract over the course of five years, but who was in charge wasn't always documented. Other employees who had not received requisite training in order to oversee government projects were nonetheless placed in charge. Overall, the mismanagement led to millions of dollars in cost overruns.
Although the final cost of building Healthcare.gov depends on what costs go into the calculus, with one report in July 2014 saying $840 million and another in September 2014 saying more than $2 billion, Tuesday's report looked at eight companies that were given 20 contracts, to the tune of $600 million, to oversee some of the more essential parts of Healthcare.gov.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, meanwhile, has said that it has addressed some of the recommendations listed in the audit and was working on others, Bloomberg reported.