by John Stanton
President Obama should have made sure that his staff checked out the performance credentials of CGI Federal before awarding it millions of dollars to push out a key element of the President's signature healthcare initiative. The Washington Post, Daily Caller, New York Times, Probublica, Wall Street Journal and, well, hell!, all of the legacy and non-legacy media, have now reported widely on the flaky technical work of CGI Federal and the journey that led to the healthcare's website flop. That of course refers to the debacle that is Obama's Affordable Care Act web portal which was to have allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans to register for various health care plans.
CGI Federal has a bumpy performance track record that also includes US Army Human Terrain System (HTS) which remains a controversial and troubled program with ongoing allegations of time card fraud and employee harassment.
PolicMic has listed the US Army's HTS program as number four in its top five list of most wasteful government programs. One of the comments attached to that piece by "Beau" implies that the HTS troubles date only to the launch of the that program and a year or so after that. That is wildly incorrect as articles reporting on the continued woes of the Human Terrain program-as late as 2013-have appeared in publications in the United States and abroad.
In an intriguing twist it seems that the Affordable Care Act web portal and the Army Human Terrain System were awarded to CGI Federal based, in large part, on having friends in high places. According to the The Daily Caller, "Toni Townes-Whitley, who worked alongside her classmate Michelle Obama in multiple Princeton University student groups, became senior vice president of CGI Federal in May 2010. CGI was the only eligible company considered for the contract to build the disastrous HealthCare.gov Obamacare enrollment site.
Over at the Army's HTS, there is a nagging belief that CGI Federal received the HTS award largely thanks to a friendship between former HTS head Colonel Sharon Hamilton, USA (Ret.) and one of the founders of Oberon Associates, a subsidiary of CGI Federal (earlier Oberon was a division of Stanley which itself was purchased by CGI). Some also hold the view that some personnel in BAE (former HTS contractor) conspired to steer the contract towards CGI.
The saddest element in both these cases is that the personnel who work in the weeds each and every day--and those citizens/foreigners who are suppose to be the beneficiaries of these efforts-get screwed: there is no polite way to put it. The exact same thing is happening over at the US Army's Center for Substance Abuse Programs. And these days, no one in these programs dare speak out about corruption or program flaws as that is now treated as a security breach.