State Obamacare exchanges halt payments for 'substandard, messed-up' websites – built by the same contractor that botched healthcare.gov
'If we could do it all over again,' a Massachusetts official said, 'we would have been better off hiring a half-dozen undergrads at MIT'
Vermont, Hawaii and Massachusetts are among the states complaining about how CGI Global's U.S. arm handled their Obamacare sites
Massachusetts is holding back all but $11 million of $69 million in contract payments until its site works properly
Vermont is stopping payment on at least $6.1 million to the same firm
Hawaii's Web portal launched two weeks late and performed so badly that the executive director of the state insurance exchange resigned in disgrace
By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor
PUBLISHED: 13:50 EST, 27 December 2013 | UPDATED: 15:56 EST, 27 December 2013
Several Obamacare exchanges in states that didn't participate in the healthcare.gov fiasco are now having so much trouble with their own health insurance websites that they're withholding payments to their biggest IT contractor – and it's the same company that botched the federal government's insurance portal.
CGI Group, the Montreal company behind the White House's error-prone, $677 million online white elephant, is under fire in Massachusetts, Vermont and Hawaii after those states' Affordable Care Act websites suffered from some of the same problems that first made Obamacare a late-night punchline in October.
The Commonwealth Health Connector has paid just $11 million to CGI for the Massachusetts project, although the website contract carried a $69 price tag, according to Fox News.
A Massachusetts government official who requested anonymity told MailOnline that his state was 'just one of the governments that got substandard, messed-up results' from the contractors it chose.
During his end-of-year press conference, President Obama blamed some of his administration's health care website woes on the rules that govern how IT work is contracted
Commonwealth Health Connector in Massachusetts is out tens of millions as its uers continue to struggle with a faulty website
Coral Andrews, executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, resigned on Dec. 6 because her state's Obamacare website was weeks late and registered hundreds -- instead of tens of thousands -- of new insurance customers
Spokesman Jason Lefferts told The Boston Globe that 'CGI has consistently underperformed, which is frustrating and a serious concern.'
'We are holding the vendor accountable for its underperformance and will continue to apply nonstop pressure to work to fix defects and improve performance.'
The state's officials will hold a January 9 meeting to determine how to proceed, but they're not pleased with the progress so far.
Vermont Health Connect, saddled with an $89 million contract on a website that wouldn't reliably let taxpayers enroll in coverage until early December, has held back $5.1 million of the $11 million CGI has billed to date, and is challenging other invoices totaling more than another $1 million.
'I've lost confidence in the contractors that were supposed to deliver a fully functioning website on Oct. 1,' Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin told the Globe. 'I'm going to continue to hold their feet to the fire until they get it right.'
Typical: Kathleen Sebelius (R), the secretary of Health and Human Services and the White House's chief Obamacare cheerleader, was left ashen-faced during a November photo-op when volunteers couldn't use healthcare.gov
Vermont Health Connect has performed so poorly that the state is withholding at least $6.1 million from CGI Global's U.S. arm
Hawaii, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, and California all used CGI as their principal Obamacare website contractor, and some have fared better than others.
Still sick: As the year's final Obamacare enrollment deadline arrived this week, the Web portal still wasn't performing as advertised
California has been a rare bright spot in President Obama's plan to replace the nation's medical insurance system with government-brokered insurance marketplaces. But Hawaii's opened two weeks later than promised, and has performed so poorly that its executive director resigned on December 6.
CGI Global's U.S. arm also has a $93.7 million contract with the federal government, but a Health and Human Services official told MailOnline that the amount of its billings would not be made public.
Overall, Uncle Same has paid out $319 million to the contractors responsible for building healthcare.gov, a yet-to-be-completed project that Silicon Valley experts have told reporters should have cost no more than $10 million to bring online.
President Obama said during a Dec. 20 press conference that the federal government's contracting rules were partly responsible for the debacle.
'Part of it, as I've said before, had to do with how IT procurement generally is done,' he said.
A month earlier, Obama told a group of Wall Street CEOs that 'the way the federal government does procurement and does IT is just generally not very efficient.'
'In fact, there's probably no bigger gap between the private sector and the public sector,' he lamented.