Cheryl Campbell - Senior Vice President CGI Federal, Inc – Prepared Testimony for the Healthcare.gov Hearing
Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Waxman, Members of the Committee, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Cheryl Campbell, and I am a Senior Vice President at CGI Federal Inc. I have responsibility for all of CGI Federal’s projects at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and several other federal agencies. It is my pleasure to appear before you today to reinforce CGI Federal’s ongoing commitment to work with CMS to continuously improve the healthcare.gov experience and to provide an update on project status.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have the overall responsibility for administering the Federal Exchange Program System, or the “Federal Exchange.” CGI Federal is the contractor that has developed a portion of the Federal Exchange, the software application known as the Federally Facilitated Marketplace or “FFM.” Before I go further into my testimony, I want to state unequivocally that our partnership with CMS for the successful implementation of the FFM to provide a user- friendly experience to apply and shop for, and enroll in, insurance remains a top priority. We will continue to dedicate our very best experts to this program around the clock to continuously improve the performance of the FFM.
I would like to begin by making a few remarks about CGI Federal, the company I represent here today. CGI Federal and its affiliated U.S. operations have provided information technology services to the U.S. federal government, as well as state and local governments, for more than 35 years, and today employ more than 11,000 U.S. employees in all 50 states. In recent years, CGI Federal has delivered some of the most complex IT implementations for the U.S. government, including:
• federalreporting.gov, which has been widely recognized for its success in capturing and transparently reporting expenditure information related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; and
• medicare.gov, which successfully helps more than 50 million U.S. citizens compare health and drug plans each year.
CGI Federal is widely recognized by independent parties for its expertise in IT systems and software design, such as certification of the CGI Federal team delivering the FFM by Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute—the leading software certification body—as having the highest Capability Maturity Model Integration rating: 5 out of 5. This reflects CGI Federal’s rigorous software development processes and commitment to continuous process improvements. CGI Federal, as part of the fifth-largest independent IT and business process services company in the world, also is supported by the deep resources and expertise of the 69,000 professionals that comprise its global work force.
Much has been made about CGI Federal’s role in the Federal Exchange, and I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the record in a few important areas.
• First, CGI Federal obtained the FFM 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. The cost-reimbursement
arrangement is appropriate where the requirements are not well established at the time of award, and indeed the FFM requirements evolved over the two years since award as regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were issued by CMS. Another contractor was awarded the contract for the Data Services Hub portion of the Federal Exchange. Notably, the ESD contract vehicle used for the Federal Exchange requires independent testing by a third party on any software developed by ESD qualified contractors.
• Second, CGI Federal and the many other contractors selected to develop the Federal Exchange perform under the direction and supervision of CMS. As I stated in my September 10 testimony, CMS serves the important role of systems integrator or “quarterback” on this project and is the ultimate responsible party for the end-to-end performance of the overall Federal Exchange. The FFM is a combination of a website and a complex transaction processor that must simultaneously help millions of Americans determine their eligibility for insurance and federal subsidies, shop for health plans, and enroll in a qualified health plan. The technology must interact in real time with (i) systems developed by other contractors (including in the area of enterprise identity management); (ii) existing federal agency databases from the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security; and (iii) databases from more than 170 insurance carriers qualified to do business in the 36 states where the FFM operates. The Federal Exchange, including the FFM, is not a standard consumer website. Rather, the FFM is part of an integrated technology
platform that completely transforms the processes of selecting and enrolling in insurance and determining eligibility for government subsidies.
Since award on September 30, 2011, CGI Federal has worked diligently to
deliver the FFM, and CGI Federal’s design and development efforts have followed a rigorous, formal process that is customary for large IT projects. The FFM passed eight (8) required technical reviews prior to going live on October 1. Consistent with the commitment that I made in my testimony on September 10, CGI Federal delivered the functionality required by CMS to enable qualified individuals to begin enrolling in coverage when initial enrollment began on October 1. Indeed, individuals have been able to complete insurance enrollments since the system went live on October 1.
While the FFM contained the required functionality, we acknowledge that issues arising in the Federal Exchange have made the process for selecting and enrolling in qualified insurance plans difficult to navigate for too many individuals. Unfortunately, in systems this complex with so many concurrent users, it is not unusual to discover problems that need to be addressed once the software goes into a live production environment. This is true regardless of the level of formal end-to-end performance testing -- no amount of testing within reasonable time limits can adequately replicate a live environment of this nature. This perspective informs our remarks about what happened on October 1 and in the days that followed.
Upon go-live on October 1, the emphasis shifted from software development to optimizing for FFM performance and rapidly addressing issues identified through user transactions. The first set of issues for users dealt with the enterprise identity management (or EIDM) function provided by another contractor, which allows users to
create secure accounts. The EIDM serves as the “front door” to the Federal Exchange that a user must pass through before entering the FFM. Unfortunately, the EIDM created a bottleneck that prevented the vast majority of users from accessing the FFM. Since October 1, CGI Federal has worked closely with CMS and other contractors to troubleshoot solutions to this “front door” problem. Now, as more and more users have been able to proceed to the FFM over the past several days, more individuals have enrolled in qualified insurance plans; however, the increased number of transactions in the FFM have caused system performance issues (such as slow response times or data assurance issues) that now need to be addressed through tuning, optimization, and application improvements. CGI Federal will continue to address these FFM performance issues.
Over the past two weeks, the Federal Exchange has continuously improved. CGI Federal will continue to dedicate the resources necessary to shorten wait and transaction times, and reduce data anomalies. Our top priority is to improve the consumer experience with the FFM so that users can shop and apply for insurance consistent with the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
I would like to end where I began -- by reinforcing CGI Federal’s unwavering commitment to working collaboratively with CMS to address the performance issues in the FFM. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
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