Obama Spent $634 Million to Build Broken Healthcare.gov Website


I could have built him a broken website for only $633 million. But I have trouble even taking in or believing that number is real.

The site itself, which apparently underwent major code renovations over the weekend, still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users that successfully gain entrance, and otherwise prevents uninsured Americans in the 36 states it serves from purchasing healthcare at competitive rates – Healthcare.gov’s primary purpose.

The reason for this nationwide headache apparently stems from poorly written code, which buckled under the heavy influx of traffic that its engineers and administrators should have seen coming. But the fact that Healthcare.gov can’t do the one job it was built to do isn’t the most infuriating part of this debacle – it’s that we, the taxpayers, seem to have forked up more than $634 million of the federal purse to build the digital equivalent of a rock.

The exact cost to build Healthcare.gov, according to U.S. government records, appears to have been $634,320,919, which we paid to a company you probably never heard of: CGI Federal.  The company originally won the contract back in 2011, but at that time, the cost was expected to run “up to” $93.7 million – still a chunk of change, but nothing near where it ended up.

Google managed to build an index of 60 million pages while basically being run by two guys with  $100k in seed money. Sure they had Stanford’s computers, but this was supposed to be backed by the US government.

Data centers are expensive. That’s why you used to see Twitter’s Fail Whale so much. But Facebook spends $50 million a year on data centers. And it rarely goes down.

And the planning here was bite sized.

The healthcare exchange that launched last week was designed for 50,000 to 60,000 concurrent users, but got 250,000, US chief technology officer Todd Park told USA Today

Really? 50,000 users at a time? You spent 600 mil on that? Facebook handles 10 million concurrent users. Even MySpace managed 1 million concurrent users.

Maybe those are unfair comparisons, but Obama Inc. was planning a massive healthcare rollout that would only have 50,000 concurrent users?

But maybe it’s not so surprising.

A Canadian tech firm that has provided service to that country’s single-payer health care system is behind the glitch-ridden United States national health care exchange site healthcare.gov.

CGI Federal is a subsidiary of Montreal-based CGI Group. With offices in Fairfax, Va., the subsidiary has been a darling of the Obama administration, which since 2009 has bestowed it with $1.4 billion in federal contracts, according to USAspending.gov.

Earlier this year the U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the pace of development and testing for Healthcare.gov.’s IT system and noted that it was missing important milestone deadlines.

HHS is by far the single largest federal contractor of CGI, showering it with $645 million in contracts. The Defense Department pays the Canadian company $254 million, the EPA $58 million and the Justice Department $36 million.

In comparison, in 2008, under President George W. Bush, CGI contracts totaled only $16.5 million for all federal departments and agencies.

That’s certainly a major shift. Why are we suddenly spending 1.4 billion on contracts to a Canadian IT company? It gets complicated.

CGI Federal was built on top of the ruins of a traditional government contractor, American Management Systems, a company co-founded by Bill Clinton’s former IRS commish, with a disastrous track record that eventually put it out of business.

How does all of this translate into a whole load of government money since 2009? I don’t know. Untangling the convoluted webs would take some time. But it is a rather interesting question.

  • lessthantolerant

    Simply further proof that the government couldn’t find their azz with their hands. They spend money simply to spend money, it is their philosophy that if it costs a lot it must be good.
    Their motto, “Trust Me’

    • The March Hare

      I believe that huge inflated payments are a way to pay off cronies and supporters. Don’t give the job to the most qualified. Give it to one of your friends and over pay them by a large amount. Maybe with the instructions to further distribute the money to smaller entities in order to laundry the money and hide the payments.

      • lessthantolerant

        How true.

      • glpage

        Given the Obama administration’s track record with so-called green companies, there is no reason to doubt your contention. It’s a way for Obama to enrich his cronies.

  • joejmz

    Is it surprising that the people who purchased $10K toilets from the lowest bidder back in the 80’s would be buying crappy websites for half a billion dollars in the 21st century?

  • Gee

    When I worked for the Defense Manpower Data Center to handle the benefits of every member of the military and their families we were scaled to handle 250,000 concurrent users. When they added the entire VA to the same site – we scaled it up to over 500,000 concurrent users over a single weekend.

  • Look_A_Squirrel

    And Obama promised this would SAVE money. Does anyone believe anything Obama says?

  • 57nomad

    This isn’t a faulty transmission that can be replaced. This is one-off code and the engineers that wrote it weren’t good enough. These things are not ‘fixable.’ They are going to have to start over.

  • Steven J. Wangsness

    Wrong. Time taken to debunk this “story”: <30 seconds.

    "…an official at CGI [the contractor] told TheBlaze those saying the
    federal heath insurance exchange cost $634 million are incorrect. The official
    said this figure includes all of the company’s contracts for a Health and Human
    Services Department program over the last seven years, covering 114 transactions. The cost of building
    healthcare.gov was issued under this contract."

    The cost of setting up healthcare.gov was $93.7 million.

    The funny part of the "defund Obamacare" drive is that it is being led by the
    Heritage Foundation…and it was the Heritage Foundation that invented Obamacare
    as the "market-driven" alternative to "socialist" healthcare.

  • Conniption Fitz

    No doubt the company that was bequeathed the astronomical amount to build the website is connected with Islam and terrorism and hires only progressives and Islamists.

  • http://whenfallsthecoliseum.com/author/kwatson/ megapotamus

    That figure is not accurate. The $643m is the total value of this company’s federal contracts for five years or more. It is clear though that the initially estimated $93m has been wildly exceeded. The question is, when their invoices come in, will they be paid? Almost certainly the answer is yes, no matter the state of the website. Would you be paid if you performed in the same manor? No. Neither would you be paid if your employer, for whatever reason, could not keep you working for some measure of time. It’s called layoffs. Outside the UAW that means a paid vacation that has every likelihood of becoming permanent.

  • Jim Donaught

    Even your favorite source of faux news got the number right:

    But hey, don’t let reality get in the way of a good screed.

  • Amanda

    So, is this a private website…run by a private company……oh, wait….it’s a .gov…..last time I checked, the gov was closed. Did you not put that together?

  • Ray

    This dollar figure is a complete lie and obviously spread by people against the Affordable Healthcare Act. The entire budget for one year for the Web site, backend integration, secure infrastructure, all call center employees plus project management and many, many other line items was around $94 million dollars for 2013 alone. So many ridiculous lies going around so don’t believe everything you read.

  • Joe the Plumber