Healthcare.gov Cost: Price Unlisted

healthcare.gov

Curious as to the cost of fixing Healthcare.gov? You aren’t alone, and if you try, you will encounter an array of data that does not necessarily lead you to an answer. In 2011, CGI Federal Inc. was awarded a contract worth $93.7 million total to build the website, a figure that potentially rose as the October 1 deadline neared. Analysis by Bloomberg Government shows last minute IT spending ahead of the October 1 deadline. CGI for example, received $149.9 million between March 2013 and October 2013 according to the estimates. The company had received $271.8 million prior to that.

Websites like USASpending.gov were meant to chronicle government spending, provide greater transparency to programs, and insight to how Washington operates. Instead, in regards to health care, there is no clear cut way to track the program. It is possible to see Health and Human Service’s spending data, and who has been awarded contracts, but there is no comprehensive data on the IT costs for Healthcare.gov.

The Bloomberg estimates top $1 billion in Affordable Care Act related contracts, spread over ten firms. Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has estimated costs near the $1 billion mark for a functioning website as well. Speaking on Fox News Issa said the costs are “probably closer to $700 million now and they’re going to spend a lot more doing the hard parts on the back end.”

Part of the uncertainty is caused by administration officials saying, on record, they do not know the costs associated with fixing the website. Politico covered a House Oversight Committee hearing in November. Through September, the price tag for Healthcare.gov was “north of $600 million” according to officials. There were no comments on price estimates for fixes to the website.

David Powner, director of information technology management issues at the Government Accountability Office spoke with Bloomberg on the phone about estimating Healthcare.gov spending. Tracking government spending on any project is difficult, Powner said, but it is feasible. Other large-scale programs, like a $10 billion weather satellite program, have been evaluated.

“We knew the cost and we knew the breakdown for the spacecraft components, each individual vendor,” Powner explained. “It’s not like that is not possible.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on December 11. In October, she promised spending data for the website. As no figures have materialized, she may be asked for it again.

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