October 26, 2013

"NO BID CONTRACT: Michelle O's Princeton classmate is executive at company that built Obamacare site..."

Headline today at Drudge, linking here.

The link goes to The Daily Caller, where we learn that Toni Townes-Whitley is a senior vice president at CGI Federal and also graduated from Princeton in the same year as Michelle Obama. Given that over 1,000 highly able persons graduate from Princeton in any given year, it's not that amazing that you'd find a Michelle Obama co-grad somewhere at the executive level of a large corporation, so this story seems a bit dumb, unless...
Townes-Whitley and her Princeton classmate Michelle Obama are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni....
... unless your point is that black people are in a cabal.
Toni Townes ’85 is a onetime policy analyst with the General Accounting Office and previously served in the Peace Corps in Gabon, West Africa. Her decision to return to work, as an African-American woman, after six years of raising kids was applauded by a Princeton alumni publication in 1998.
Jeez, the writing in The Daily Caller is bad! So Townes-Whitley decided to return to work as an African-American woman? What was she before? A white man?

Look, I'm concerned about corruption and the appearance of corruption, but this is a low-quality effort at investigative journalism. And yet think of the traffic that story is getting with the Drudge link. The rewards are there for those who are hot to get them. Fine. You like that story? Then don't whimper about lefties' expressions of contempt for right-wing media.

98 comments:

Paddy O said...

"...this is the rock solid principle on which the whole of the CGI Federal's world-wide success is founded - their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws."

Glen Filthie said...

Oh yes, Ann, please do lecture us on bad writing as you put on airs of intellectual sophistication! Apropos of nothing at all, the comedic irony is reaching toxic levels!

A black 'cabal' you say? Hardly. If I can be allowed to flatter myself, a good writer would probably use a more apt term of 'cronyism' or perhaps 'tokenism'.

And no, bad journalism does not justify the so-called 'yellow journalism' of the political left.

TosaGuy said...

Check the White House visitation logs to see if there is any fire behind the smoke

somefeller said...

I'm just surprised the Daily Caller didn't notice the real story. You know who also went to Princeton? Ted Cruz! And you know who Democrats are promoting as the leader of the GOP? Ted Cruz! It's all a seamless web and the clues are right there for anyone to see.

rhhardin said...

She's sending money to her friend.

It's the same character trait that takes million dollar free vacations.

It's the grifter culture.

Hagar said...

The insinuation is that she previously had been just plain Toni Townes getting along on her wits, but returned with the realization that she could capitalize on being marketed as an "African-American woman" with "connections."

rhhardin said...

The problem isn't the half billion but that the thieves steal your $500 stereo and sell it for $10.

Old example, defining a louse.

Develop a huge crippling program so that you can skim a tiny percentage, costing the nation everything.

William said...

There was a no bid contract. The company who acquired the contract did an extremely poor job. A senior executive at that company was a friend of Michelle......This is not proof of corruption, but neither is stating these facts proof of racism.

Shouting Thomas said...

... unless your point is that black people are in a cabal.

What? 95% of blacks voted for Obama. You'd be hard pressed to produce those stats in a mock election in a Stalinist state.

There's a Black Congressional Caucus, but no white one, correct? The existence of a White Caucus would, of course, be the first step toward resurrection of the Klan.

Only a racist would notice these things.

Paul Zrimsek said...

A senior executive at that company was a friend of Michelle

The article provides no evidence that they ever even met. Have you got some?

CWJ said...

Mark Steyn had a much better takedown of CGI today.

But tosaguy is right. Make the connection, not just the association, and this would be a story. Otherwise no.

dhagood said...

the daily caller article seems to be long on insinuation and short on facts. i agree this is lame. the problem is that a lot of lefty reporting uses the exact same technique. look at just about any article that mentions charles and david koch, for example.

seems to me the takeaway here is that a hefty proportion of "journalism" and "journalists" suck regardless of political affiliation.

Hagar said...

There is no need for them to have met - or, perhaps they did and instantly disliked each other - nor is there any need for Ms. Towne-Whitley to have been involved with anything dodgy.

She may be a legitimate high-performing executive, or she may just be a name on the letterhead and required to show up for at least some board meetings.

But when there are no-bid contracts, she - and her firm - have to be prepared for suspicions being raised.

Real American said...

how many black females graduated from Princeton in 1985? I doubt it was that many. so yeah, they knew each other and probably were friends.

Mrs. X said...

Forget about cronyism - why a Canadian company? This outfit was the recipient of a contract as large as the stimulus. There might have been some actual jobs created with all that $$$. Doesn't this bother anyone?

SteveR said...

Nothing to see here, move along

Levi Starks said...

The real problem here is that we will never be allowed to know the truth. Everything that happens in the white house which billed itself as "setting a new standard for openness" Is shrouded in secrecy. The president won't even meet with Republicans and Democrats in the same room. He must control the narrative at all costs.
Any attempt by the Republicans to uncover facts about anything is met with obstruction.
Even if you give a no bid contract, there must be a record of some deliberation of how that contract was awarded don't you think? Do you think we'll ever see it? Not.A.Chance.
What we'll get is the President's vague explanation, delivered in a threatening tone. That's what he's good at.
And as long as some significant percentage of Americans love him for just being who he is, that's enough.

betamax3000 said...

Betamax3000 is a No-Bid Contract.

cubanbob said...

A no bid contract from a company with a less than sterling track record? Thats plenty enough. At least Haliburton was competent. As for appearances, considering that Michelle received a very cushion job while wife of a junior Senator.......

SGT Ted said...

We have observed the purposeful use of the "Chicago way", crony rewarding, corruption centered governing style for the past 5 years from Obama.

Fat, no bid, stimulus funded contracts going to political supporters and ideological cronies for the last 5 years. They all fail, being incompetently run.


The Princeton classmate of the wife of the most powerful man on the planet gets a no bid contract and proves to be another incompetent failure.

Of COURSE the ACA website contract was on the up and up. /eyeroll

If this was a Republican we all know how this would be sold by the very people denying that its corruption when done by the Oblamers family.

Althouse, your ideological blindspot is showing itself. You are giving the benefit of the doubt to people that, based on their past actions, deserve none and the only motivation I can see is that of politics.

MayBee said...

Yes.

Because one story justifies the contempt the left (which controls almost all the media) has for all conservative media.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Don't whimper about my contempt for the NYT. I mean, look at all the crap that Daily Kos diarists have been posting.

MayBee said...

Lefties also hate right-wing media for trying to cover Benghazi and the IRS scandal. But they are justified in that hatred if some righties like this story.

William said...

In the fullness of time, it was decided that being too vehemently anti-Communist was a far worse sin than being a Communist or even a Communist spy. Thus so with this scandal. Racism is a greater sin than cronyism. Anyone who even raises questions such as this is guilty of racism and deserve to be put to the margins.

somefeller said...

OMG. Michelle Obama got Rick Perry to give money to this company, too! Her tentacles are everywhere.

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/10/25/perry-backed-company-behind-federal-exchange-websi/

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse, for those of you who don't recognize her schoolmarm tactics, was asking you to prove your assertions. She wasn't taking sides.

The motives of these grafters are beyond anybody's ability to prove. I'll grant her that.

Heartiste has summed it all up in a post that really is entirely explained by its title, "Healthcare.graft".

The Detroit-ization of the U.S. is well under way. There's a reason black rule inevitably leads to the eating of the goose that lays the golden eggs. Sub-Saharan Africa is destitute and hopelessly corrupt. For a reason. I won't tell you what it is. Use your imagination, and be sure to includes copious rants about "racism" and "white privilege." Clearly, it is all the fault of the White Man.

EDH said...

It does seem she was brought in during the ramp-up of CGI's federal business following Obama's election.

TONI TOWNES-WHITLEY - Senior Vice-President, Civilian Agency Programs

Toni Townes-Whitley joined CGI in May 2010. She is a Senior Vice-President currently leading the Civilian Agency Programs (CAP) Business Unit for the Federal Group...

Ms. Townes-Whitley is responsible for sales, client relationships, P&L and member management for CAP’s 1,850+ members across the U.S. and 34 countries internationally...


Meet CGI Federal, the company behind the botched launch of HealthCare.gov

CGI Federal is a relative newbie on the U.S. government IT contracting scene. It bought the U.S. contractor American Management Systems in 2004, but only started ramping up business after 2008, and accelerated in 2010 with the $1.1 billion acquisition of U.S.-based military IT contractor Stanley Inc. That sent its contracting work through the roof:

Chart:CGI Federal's contracting volume over the years...

That said, they've learned quickly, and see the U.S. federal government as their area of biggest growth. CGI Federal's health-care practice has grown 90 percent year over year, largely due to the Healthcare.gov project. And for a contractor, ballooning projects are a good thing. "In the Federal Government business, we continue to see more extensions and ceiling increases on our existing work, while we further leverage our position on contract vehicles," said CEO Michael Roach on their latest earnings call. Those "contract vehicles" now amount to $200 billion, which Roach later referred to as a "hunting license."
"Accordingly, we continue to view U.S. Federal Government as a significant growth opportunity," Roach continued. CGI Federal now has an $8 billion pipeline of future task orders — doubling its federal business over the period of a year...

What was their track record before getting the Healthcare.gov gig?

Experience in similar types of projects is very important in getting federal contracts. CGI had done work in the healthcare arena, and not all of it good...

How did CGI land the Healthcare.gov contract?

CGI Federal's winning bid stretches back to 2007, when it was one of 16 companies to get certified on a $4 billion "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity" contract for upgrading Medicare and Medicaid's systems... GWACs... allow agencies to issue task orders to pre-vetted companies without going through the full procurement process, but also tend to lock out companies that didn't get on the bandwagon originally. According to USASpending.gov, CGI Federal got a total of $678 million for various services under the contract — including the $93.7 million Healthcare.gov job, which CGI Federal won over three other companies in late 2011.

MayBee said...

It's probably just a gal in her neighborhood.

Big Mike said...

@William, was she a friend of Michelle Obama's? The article hints that they know each other, but a hint is only proof when it's hinted by the New York Times and the target is a Republican.

The question before us is why did the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) only consider CGI's bid of the four bids that were offered, especially since (1) they are a Canadian company and the government is supposed to try to "buy US," and (2) their previous work for the Canadian government eHealth portal resulted in a project that was so over budget and behind schedule that it had to be cancelled.

There may be more that one reason. For instance, CMS may have had a target budget and only CGI's bid was within the target. If I worked for CMS, that would give me pause. Maybe CGI was underestimating the scope and complexity of the project? On the other hand, asking for more budget in the era of Obama would probably be career-limiting at the very least.

It's also possible that Toni Townes-Whitley may have hinted at a closer relationship than exists. A framed picture of her in lively conversation with Michelle Obama at a Association of Black Princeton Alumni soiree -- maybe even autographed by Michelle herself! -- posted on a conference room wall might do it. And, trust me, every politician leaves tons of autographed pictures of them with nodding acquaintances scattered around.

The scandal is real, but it's more subtle. During previous administrations the career civil servants would pretty much ignore these pictures and get on with their jobs. In the era of Obama, crony capitalism rules and perceived close ties to the White House become more important than hiring someone who can get the job done.

And the judgment of these CMS officials was right! No one at CMS has been assigned to count alligators by hand in the Okefenokee swamp in the summer and count polar bears in Northern Alaska during the winter, have they now? I doubt there's even a mild letter of reprimand in anyone's file.

That's the scandal.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

How about we set a goalpost now? If she was brought in in 2010 and if she is responsible for 'client relationships' and if she is a friend of the first lady and if she met with the white house about this work and if cgi was awarded a no bid contract and the cost greatly exceeded the value delivered, do we have a scandal?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

CWJ is right: Steyn's piece this morning is very interesting. I didn't realize that CGI had previously demonstrated its incompetence so comprehensively before being awarded its no-bid contract for healthcare.gov. That is the real story, not who Michelle Obama went to school with.

MayBee said...

If we wonder about her relationship with the Obama's, we should just ask. The Obamas have always been incredibly forthcoming about their relationships and friendships with people.

SteveR said...

This is standard stuff but for the present visibility of the website failure, which brings the viability of the ACA into (greater) doubt, easily ignored. "Beltway Bandits", K-Street, etc. hope and change folks, that's what the election was about. Most transparent administration in history.

MayBee said...

Autocorrect put that apostrophe in there.

Archie said...

The fix was in and yes there is a Black crony system in full flower under this race-based administration.

Brian Moore said...

where there is smoke there may be fire. In this case there are even some flames that can be glimpsed. See, for example, http://www.examiner.com/article/first-lady-s-princeton-classmate-senior-vp-at-firm-that-built-obamacare-website?cid=rss

Paul said...

Ann,

As I have posted zillions of times now, WHO HAS STOCK IN THE COMPANIES THAT MADE THE SOFTWARE?

Obama? Biden? Pelosi (like her husband has all those companies), Reid? DNC donors?

Is this going to be another scandal like the 'stimulus' money that went to green companies that failed and failed and failed yet their executives got million dollar parachutes and were, yes, donors to Obama's campaign?)

Something tells me that is EXACTLY what will transpire. But the owners didn't know just how inept the software company people were.

William said...

There's a certain amount of smoke here. Perhaps it's due to a smoke making machine or perhaps there truly is something smoldering. At any event, it's worth investigating........,Maxine Waters and Alycee Hastings go around with flashing neon signs above their office doors that proclaim Corrupt Pol. Their transgressions are not mocked by late night comics or investigated by Rolling Stone. I understand that there is such a thing as white racism but tolerance of black corruption is not the antidote.

Carol said...

this no-bid insinuation is driving me carzy...if the vendors were on the GSA supply services schedule then it's totally legit to do it this way and it's faster than going out to bid. I need more info.

Carol said...

carzy I'm tellin ya

Inga said...

So?

SteveR said...

So nothing Inga, nothing to see here

Gahrie said...

I admire your consistency Althouse. We all remember you denouncing those who attacked Bush when Haliburton got a no bid contract from the government.........

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

The Steyn piece is devastating but not for Inga who says, "So?"

Someday, assuming history is still being written then, there might be interest in the story of black networking in the Ivy League world. It is, of course, forbidden to mention this but Michelle was paid $300k a year by U of Chicago after Barry was elected to the state senate. After he was elected POTUS, her very important job at U of C was abolished.

See how that works ?

What was that job ?

Why it was to see that black indigents went to another ER for care besides the U of C hospitals ER.

In 2005, Obama was named Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the Medical Center, where she was responsible for all programs and initiatives that involved relationships between the Medical Center and the community. She was also responsible for managing the Medical Center's business diversity program.

eddie willers said...

So nothing Inga, nothing to see here

"What difference, at this point, does it make!"

EDH said...

Michelle Obama's Patient-Dumping Scheme

The First Lady helped create a notorious program that dumped poor patients on community hospitals, yet the national media ignore the story...

The University of Chicago Medical Center has received a good deal of justly opprobrious press over its policy of "redirecting" low-income patients to community hospitals while reserving its own beds for well-heeled patients requiring highly profitable procedures. Substantial coverage was given to a recent indictment of the program by the American College of Emergency Physicians. ACEP's president... released a statement suggesting that the initiative comes "dangerously close to ‘patient dumping,' a practice made illegal... and reflected an effort to ‘cherry pick' wealthy patients over poor."

Oddly absent from most of the unflattering press coverage of UCMC's patient-dumping scheme is any mention of the role our new First Lady played in devising the program. A laudable exception has been the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported last August that "Michelle Obama -- currently on unpaid leave from her $317,000-a-year job as a vice president of the prestigious hospital -- helped create the program"...

But no amount of journalistic lipstick can hide the reality that Mrs. Obama's initiative is a patient-dumping scheme...

Mrs. Obama first hatched the UCMC program as the "South Side Health Collaborative," which featured a gang of "counselors" whose job it was to "advise" low-income patients that they would be better off at other hospitals and clinics. The program was so successful in getting rid of unwanted patients that she expanded it, gave it a new name, and hired none other than David Axelrod to sell the program to the public. According to the Sun-Times, "Obama's wife and Valerie Jarrett, an Obama friend and adviser who chairs the medical center's board, backed the Axelrod firm's hiring." Axelrod helped the future First Lady formulate a public relations campaign in which the "Urban Health Initiative" was represented as a boon to the community actuated by the purest of altruistic motives.

The resultant PR campaign was a study in Orwellian audacity...

In one of the few frank passages of the Post article, we discover that many members of UCMC's medical staff believe the program is nothing more than an "attempt to ensure that the hospital retains only affluent patients with insurance"...

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Toni Townes-Whitley was hired away from Unisys by CGI in May 2010, just after Obamacare was signed into law in March. At that time many IT contractors were positioning themselves to win the IT work associated with the new exchanges contemplated by Obamacare.

CGI was given the contract in September 2011, despite having a spotty record on other contracts. Prior to joining Unisys, Townes-Whitley had worked as a senior manager at Arthur Anderson until it's 2002 demise in the Enron scandal.

That's how it's done, Daily Caller.

Gabriel Hanna said...

"Classmate" is a weasel word deployed to insinuate a close relationship, but I have thousands of "classmates" according to the Daily Caller standard, whom I do not know and whose names I would not recognize.

It's not like they went to elementary school together and were in the same homeroom. According to the evidence presented in the Caller, they graduated from the same University in the same year.

Rusty said...

Mrs. X said...
Forget about cronyism - why a Canadian company? This outfit was the recipient of a contract as large as the stimulus.

God love ya.
You really don't know how Chicago works, do you?
As an insider said elected official gets wind that there is going to be a need for, -insert project here. There is a chance for a contractor to make a butt-load of money. Hmmm. The elected official gets together with his friends and family and they search their friends and family for any member who isn't already on the public payroll and has a different last name.
They form a corporation in Canada. Perfectly legit. They're obeying all the laws of Canada. They write a proposal for said project.( The numbers don't really mean anything since there is going to cost overruns and add ons anyway.)
Meanwhile back home. The politician brings up in committee that they have a proposal and with a wink and a nod everybody votes to go with that "Canadian Company".
the job is let to the "Canadian Company" which starts hire personnel and buying equipment and hiring sub-contractors to build the project.
whatever the actual cost. it is gauranteed that the bill will be at least double what any bid was. in this case a no bid contract is a cost plus contract-basically a license to print money.
This is how politicians retire wealthy. especially Chicago politicians.

Titus said...

Any minority going to an Ivy knows everyone in their minority group.

Titus said...

We are at the Hawthorne Inn in Salem (dog friendly) after a full day of doggy events and vege food...sigh. Tonight gets a little more weird in Salem....so we wil be staying in with rare clumber watching horror movies.

Boo!

mtrobertsattorney said...

Let's suppose Toni and Michelle were good friends at Princton and that the two had more than a few face to face and phone conversations after Obamacare was signed into law. So???

Should there be an investigation to see whether this supposition is true?

It's racist to even entertain such a question.

Jupiter said...

"Her decision to return to work, as an African-American woman, after six years of raising kids was applauded by a Princeton alumni publication in 1998."

Althouse,

Have you considered the possibility that "as an African-American woman" is a quote from the Princeton alumni publication?
Or a paraphrase of some gushing nonsense contained therein?

Titus said...

We watched the most hilarious movie last night....I forgot what it was because I was tipsy.

It is a bunch of small movies in one big movie. One of the pieces is with Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman. She goes on a blind date with him and when he takes off his scarf at the restaurant he has balls hanging from his neck which everyone else in the restaurant ignore....because he is rich and famous. When he is cold in the restaurant they shrink. He takes pics of friends with their babies and his balls are hanging on the baby's heads. His balls drop in his soup.

Another piece is with Naomi Watts where she and her husband (in real life too) home school their kid and want him to experience everything a kid in high school would experience. So his first date with his mom where they make out, he gets bullied by being hung up in the yard with poo on his chest saying, "I like to suck dicks" and his dad makes him scream, I like to suck dicks" at the top of his lungs.

Lydia said...

Confused reporting by the Daily Caller on whether or not this was even a non-bid contract -- they reported this on October 15: HHS denies CGI Federal was sole bid for Obamacare exchange:

a spokesperson from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) told the Daily Caller, “CGI did not receive any sole source awards. They competed for the work on our multiple award contract.”

And yet the Daily Caller is now 10 days later going with the no-bid angle again.

PB Reader said...

Toni Townes has ZERO experience in systems integration. She was in a number of non-related fields before and had taken 6 years off before joining CGI Perhaps this is CGI's core problem - they hire executives that don't understand what they do, but have relationships and contacts to exploit.

The big problem is the large number of no-bid contracts given out under Obamacare and under the Obama administration in general.

SteveR said...

Gabriel Hanna: Without regard to the number of members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni from the class of 1985, or that by its nature networking is a key feature thereof, this should be a relatively easy connection to shoot down, if it does not exist.

david7134 said...

For 8 years all we heard from the left and the MSM was that Halliburton received non-bid government contracts. No one ever mentioned that there are only two companies that do what Halliburton does, the other being owned by the French. At the time, the French were not supporting our efforts, so that only left Halliburton. But no one reported that and you certainly did not make the connection. Now we have a group of people in office that definitely have created special favors for their friends and supporters. After all, Michelle received a salary of $300,000 per year to do nothing. So any hint at the illegal antics of this bunch should be brought to light. The only problem is that they are doing so much wrong that it is difficult to come up with individual actions. I might add that many of us knew this would happen in 2007 and therefore had the foresight to not vote for them.

james conrad said...

You like that story? Then don't whimper about lefties' expressions of contempt for right-wing media.

LOL, I am gonna have to go along with Ann on this one, pretty weak story, no doubt.

I am much more interested in the no bid contract part of this story and how that came about.

gadfly said...

Althouse sez:
Look, I'm concerned about corruption and the appearance of corruption, but this is a low-quality effort at investigative journalism.

Perhaps this low quality journalism goes right along with the deliberate ignoring by the press of Michelle Obama's child obesity campaign that was organized at the behest of the SIEU and Acorn to channel an extra billion dollars into food service programs that would benefit not-so-much kids as it would unionized workers. That is indeed Chicago Way corruption in the finest sense and Michelle learned well from her father who was a south side precinct captain for Richard J. Daley's Cook County Democrats.

Corruption is what the corrupt do.

Illuninati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"You like that story? Then don't whimper about lefties' expressions of contempt for right-wing media"

If someone were to demonstrate a factual error in the story then I would be a bit more concerned. What they have done here is to provide some interesting leads on the story but have not followed through.

Personally I couldn't care less about what the lefties think about right-wing media. I wish the left-wing media were as accurate at the right-wing media. I would be pleased if the worst thing that could be said about left wing media is that they leave threads dangling in their story, I'd respect them much more.

I am not certain that CGI Federal is really responsible for this mess. They may be the fall guys. I heard somewhere that the government repeatedly changed the requirements for the program while the programmers were in the middle of the job. The frequent changes led to some of the glitches. I've only heard it once and don't have another independent source for verification, so until we hear more it is good to remain skeptical of all sides.

Allen Cogbill said...

I read the headline, followed the link, and found that the story, while intriguing, did not have many facts behind it. The fact that the two women were "classmates" doesn't mean very much, though I'll concede it's very likely they knew each other.

In any case, it is mediocre reporting at best...someone should have followed whatever trail might or might not exist, then report.

Drudge loves it, as it provides hits. At this point, that is what the story is good for.

All that said, one has to wonder why a Canadian company got a no-bid contract, especially one for a huge amount of money.

LarsPorsena said...

Since Michell's friend was a sociology/African American studies major, it's safe to assume that she's never designed a system or even written a line of code.

She's a VP at an IT company that has designed a piece of shit. How could that happen?

Mandarins in the Imperial City. Mandarins all the way down.

AJ Lynch said...

According to Wikipedia, Michele [Robinson] Obama also majored in:

"Robinson majored in sociology and minored in African American studies and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985."

So they surely know each other.

Big Mike said...

A couple points of information, folks. It was not a no-bid contract. The web site was developed under an umbrella contract that the government calls an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ)contract. At the time the overarching IDIQ contract is put up for bid the various bidders put together teams, prove via their proposals that they have the required expertise and subject area knowledge, and negotiate their rates. The government likes this contract form because work done under the contract, like web site development, does not require the agency to define the scope of the work except in broad terms, and the agency avoids going through the cumbersome request for information (RFI), request for proposal (RFP), and best and final offer (BAFO) steps of the federal acquisition regulations (FAR).

Projects under an IDIQ contract are let out as tasks, which may be extended to a single qualified bidder for good and sufficient reasons, or the government may ask multiple vendors to submit bids.

Four companies bid on the ACA web site task, but according to CMS only CGI's bid was considered. We don't know why not. It might be a perfectly valid reason, such as the other bids not being responsive to the task requirements, or it might have been for underhanded, "crony capitalism" purposes to route profitable business to a friend or someone powerful. I can speculate, and so can anyone else, but short of waterboarding speculation is all we have.

I heard somewhere that the government repeatedly changed the requirements for the program while the programmers were in the middle of the job. The frequent changes led to some of the glitches.

Requirements creep is a fact of life in government contracting. The government is used to letting contracts for systems when the requirements are poorly understood, then as the requirements are refined into specs the government program managers can seldom avoid the temptation the grow the number and complexity of the requirements, resulting in rework, as noted, and in additional programming that was neither budgeted nor anticipated when the contract was staffed.

richard mcenroe said...

I can just imagine the ferocity of Ann's defense of journalistic rigor and the women involved if they were blonde Minnesota Republicans.

In fact, I'd probably have to.

Big Mike said...

You like that story? Then don't whimper about lefties' expressions of contempt for right-wing media.

Let's rewrite this a little bit, shall we, Professor?

You don't like that story? Then don't whimper when sane people express contempt for the bullshit published by Andrew Sullivan, Maureen Dowd, Chris Cillizza, E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, and the list goes on.

Lydia said...

Four companies bid on the ACA web site task, but according to CMS only CGI's bid was considered. We don't know why not.

Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president, CGI Federal Inc., in her written testimony prepared for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce seems to indicate it was because CGI offered the “best value”:

"I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the record in a few important areas. First, CGI Federal obtained the FFM contract [Federally Facilitated Marketplace, the name of the ObamaCare website contract] through a two-step competitive process. In 2007, through full and open competition, CGI Federal was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract for Enterprise Systems Development(ESD) along with other 16 other industry competitors. In 2011, CMS conducted a competition for the FFM cost-reimbursement task order among the ESD contract holders. Of the four bids submitted, CGI Federal was selected by CMS as the ‘best value’ to the government."

somefeller said...

You don't like that story? Then don't whimper when sane people express contempt for the bullshit published by Andrew Sullivan, Maureen Dowd, Chris Cillizza, E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, and the list goes on.

The problem with this turnabout statement, of course, is that sane people don't express contempt for the work of such writers, though sometimes Dowd can generate an eye-roll when she gets overly precious. But nice try. And how is your quest to keep the federal government's hands off your Medicare going?

Big Mike said...

@Lydia, "best value" is government-speak for "we did not take the lowest qualified bidder."

Generally best value contracts go to contractors who have something special to offer -- typically some sort of special qualifications or special expertise that the lowest bidder cannot provide but which dramatically reduces technical or schedule risk. That said, I'm hard pressed to figure out what's so "special" about CGI. The old American Management Systems that CGI bought back in 2004 was highly skilled in specific areas, but 2004 was a long time ago and I assume that most of those experts are gone by now.

Big Mike said...

@somefeller, you need to broaden your circle of friends if you know no one sane.

And your remark vis-à-vis Medicare generates a bit of an eye-roll all by itself.

Bill R said...

Obviously, CGI is secretly owned by the Koch brothers. They deliberately sabotaged the software in an attempt to discredit the ACA. Hiring Townes-Whitley to discredit Michelle Obama was just icing on the cake.

The fiends.

Paul said...

@Bill

More likely it is owned by Soros & Co. through a bunch of shell companies.

And they are big donors of Obama and the DNC.

SteveR said...

Generally best value contracts go to contractors who have something special to offer

Which may include being owned (wink wink) by Native Alaskans or minorities, etc.

Big Mike said...

@SteveR, wrong. There really are contracts that are set aside for small business, or for small businesses with minority ownership, or for small businesses with minority female ownership, or for small businesses with disabled veteran ownership, and so forth. That's actually perfectly legal and a part of doing business with the federal government.

But there are specifically labeled as set-asides. The big guys like Lockheed-Martin or CSC do not pursue them except as subcontractors to a qualified firm. The ACA web site was not a set-aside.

Best value means that there is something you bring to the table that no one else who is otherwise qualified to do the work can bring.

Michael K said...

"And how is your quest to keep the federal government's hands off your Medicare going?"

This is a standard lefty myth and I am not surprised to see you refer to it. There were no Tea Party signs saying that.

SteveR said...

I understand Mike. Different shortcuts to the process, obviously justifiable in many cases but from the outside, or even the inside, it doesn't always look right.

Clyde said...

In every organization that I've been a part of, members of minority groups (including and perhaps especially black people) all knew each other and had a tendency to stick together, stopping off to socialize with each other during the course of the day. Call it the legacy of centuries of discrimination or whatever, but it is an actual phenomenon.

The notion that Ms. Townes-Whitley and Mrs. Obama could possibly have been at Princeton at the same time and NOT known each other fairly well is laughable, especially given Mrs. Obama's known race-based political views during her college years.

Bruce Hayden said...

In defense of the minority set-aside program - it allowed me to graduate from law school without any debt, and my wife at the time to get another master's degree, again with no debt.

Story is that a mid-level government supervisor really, really wanted her to work for him. Every time that he was able to up his offer, she had gotten a better job. And, then he discovered minority set-aside programs, and found a willing contractor who would essentially hire whomever he wanted at whatever cost, just to get the overhead. We were a packaged deal. In three years on this contract, I met the owner of the contracting company one time, but saw the government supervisor almost daily. The good thing was that we were making very good money, about half again what I was making at Unisys (where this young lady worked at one time). The bad news is that when funding dries up, and contracts run out, the contractors are the ones who are cut loose, not the government employees who probably should be doing the job, but find more fun stuff to do instead. And, so, by total coincidence, the contract ended on a Friday, graduated from LS on Saturday, and started Bar review on Monday. Which I took at the time as maybe a sign that I should be an attorney, and not a software engineer.

Bruce Hayden said...

First, I think that Titus is right - minority students at schools like Princeton tend to know and hang around the other students of the same minority quite a bit. We don't know anything about this woman, but Michelle seems of the type to have spent much of her time at Princeton, and probably even more so, in law school, with other Black women. Being in the same class, they almost assuredly knew each other, and probably spent some time together. We don't know for sure, but do know what the Obamas are like, and esp. Michelle, who seems the more militant Black of the two (she having a more typical Black upbringing, while her husband was primarily raised by the White side of his family, much of it in inter-racial Hawaii, and he didn't share the slave heritage that most Blacks in this country do).

Besides, as others have pointed out above, this is the Chicago way. This is how business is done there. You give business to your friends, and they take care of you. A sort of crony capitalism. And, yes, we have plenty of examples of this during the Obama Administration, most notably all those "green" energy loans, a number of which went bad. It is pretty evident by all the evidence out there that the merit of the proposals was of much lesser importance than who they knew in power, and, esp in or close to the White House. The connections of those getting pretty much every "green energy" loan gone bad can be traced to either the White House, the DNC, or Dem leadership in Congress. Chicago was the city that worked, greased by a lot of minor graft and corruption, until one day it didn't, and the Chicago pols moved on to the federal government, where they were no longer constrained by the city's tax revenues, but instead had the federal printing presses available to continue to shove ever larger and larger amounts of money to their cronies.

A number above, including, I think, Ann, ask us to give the Administration the benefit of the doubt here. After all, why would they give a contract this critical, and this costly, to cronies? And, my response is why should we? What have the Dems in general here, and the White House in particular, done in the last 4 1/2 years to warrant such a leap of faith? What is there to make you think that they used wisdom and good faith in contracting with this company for this project, when they really haven't done used such in the past all that much?

I think that, in the end, the abject failure of the launch of the healthcare.gov website is going to be one of those events that show the limits to a political philosophy. It was not designed nor was it implemented by the best and brightest, and, even if it had been, it probably would have failed, just maybe not as badly. It was a horribly written law, the result of several generations of progressive thought, numerous drafters, and numerous stake holders - but only the ones willing to pay to play. Big Pharma were in, the FemiNazis were in, as were the unions, but not the Doctors, etc. Too many cooks, many of them operating under wishful thinking economic theories, spoiled the soup. Using government contracting only made the failure of the rollout all but certain, and using the short cuts used to award the contract, and maybe awarding it the Chicago way, made it completely certain. Half a billion dollars, over 3 years, and it failed miserably and very visibly. I think that this is a cautionary tale about the limits of big government, and how people of (sometimes) good intentions can destroy much, and squander many billions of dollars, while failing to even come close to their goals, through use of the government to achieve their goals.

LilyBart said...


They may be how the Daily Caller writes, but its the way the progressives think

Its all about race, race, race.

Rusty said...

God bless you, Lydia.
You really don't know how this works, do you?

They ask for bids. The company they want to win the contract is handed the specifications and what the committee is looking for estimate wise. The contractor then tailors their bid. Sometimes there is a government "facilitator" involved.
Chicago and Cook county now run our country.

Joseph Blieu said...

Reid and Axelrod defame anyone they choose and gleefully lie for their advantage ( Rommny pays no taxes etc) Why does the author jump down the throats of a similar rather mild comment by the other side? Are those who are consistently dishonest ( Durban) given a pass and others who let out a peep to be stomped on?

Joseph Blieu said...

Reid and Axelrod defame anyone they choose and gleefully lie for their advantage ( Rommny pays no taxes etc) Why does the author jump down the throats of a similar rather mild comment by the other side? Are those who are consistently dishonest ( Durban) given a pass and others who let out a peep to be stomped on?

Inga said...

Lydia, don't mind Rusty, he tries to pretend he knows stuff.

~ Steven said...

Butterfly effect.

PB Reader said...

Ah, the Black Princeton Alumni group. They are separate but equal.

RecChief said...

the alrger story here is the no bid contract. Remember when the Bush administration was pilloried for using KBR to perform support functions in Iraq through a no bid contract? The press was incensed then. good times.

Hagar said...

A no-bid contract is not proof of coruption, but it is reasonable grounds for suspicion.

And now I have seen an article that claims that Valerie Jarrett's daughter and son-in-law also work for this ooutfit.

Marshal said...

Then don't whimper about lefties' expressions of contempt for right-wing media.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/us/politics/group-linked-to-kochs-admits-to-campaign-finance-violations.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=3&

It's amazing left and right media fall for the same crap, but one is vilified for every error while the other is lauded no matter how obvious their bias.

Cruising Troll said...

Time to do an update:


CGI Federal executive spent ‘Christmas with the Obamas’

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/28/cgi-federal-executive-spent-christmas-with-the-obamas/#ixzz2j3mYlun3

Phaedrus said...

still think this was a low quality effort, admit you are wrong on this one

http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/28/cgi-federal-executive-spent-christmas-with-the-obamas/

Michelle Obama’s relationship with Princeton classmate Toni McCall Townes-Whitley, whose company earned the no-bid contract to design the disastrous Healthcare.Gov Obamacare website, continued after the Obamas moved into the White House.

Townes-Whitley and her husband even enjoyed “Christmas with the Obamas” at the White House in December 2010, according to a Facebook album created by Townes-Whitley.

Although neither Michelle Obama nor Townes-Whitley has discussed their relationship, the Christmas event took place just seven months after Townes-Whitley joined CGI Federal as a senior vice president


Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/28/cgi-federal-executive-spent-christmas-with-the-obamas/#ixzz2j4ABXMXk

Phaedrus said...

still think this was a low quality effort, admit you are wrong on this one

http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/28/cgi-federal-executive-spent-christmas-with-the-obamas/

Michelle Obama’s relationship with Princeton classmate Toni McCall Townes-Whitley, whose company earned the no-bid contract to design the disastrous Healthcare.Gov Obamacare website, continued after the Obamas moved into the White House.

Townes-Whitley and her husband even enjoyed “Christmas with the Obamas” at the White House in December 2010, according to a Facebook album created by Townes-Whitley.

Although neither Michelle Obama nor Townes-Whitley has discussed their relationship, the Christmas event took place just seven months after Townes-Whitley joined CGI Federal as a senior vice president


Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/28/cgi-federal-executive-spent-christmas-with-the-obamas/#ixzz2j4ABXMXk

Ron Coleman said...

As unlikely as it seems, the two may very well not have known each other at all. They were both my classmates and I don't know either one of them. About 1100 of us graduated together. While many people traveled across social lines, there were pretty well-established borders delineating socioeconomic, racial and ideological backgrounds at Princeton.

Debra said...

@ Paul Zrimsek, TosaGuy: Yes, Michelle O. knows Townes-Whitley:
http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/michelle-obama-obamacare-website-cgi/2013/10/29/id/533586

Lydia Justin said...

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