Have you heard of CGI Federal? It’s the company that received a $678 million no-bid contract to develop the disaster that is healthcare.gov. It is also the company whose officials are now coming under scrutiny for the roll out of the Obamacare exchange web portal. But it also seems like those officials are also buddy-buddy with the Obama administration.
According to The Daily Caller, Toni Townes-Whitley, a senior vice president at CGI Federal, is a Princeton classmate of First Lady Michelle Obama. Townes-Whitley and Mrs. Obama are both members of are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.
As reported by the Washington Examiner in early October, the Department of Health and Human Services reviewed only CGI’s bid for the Obamacare account. CGI was one of 16 companies qualified under the Bush administration to provide certain tech services to the federal government. A senior vice president for the company testified this week before The House Committee on Energy and Commerce that four companies submitted bids, but did not name those companies or explain why only CGI’s bid was considered.
According to Federal Election Commission Records, Toni Townes-Whitley gave $500 in 2011 and 2012 to Obama’s reelection, and another $1,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.
The Washington Examiner reports that senior officials at CGI Federal had White House access. Before being granted the no-bid contract, CGI Federal officials attended several invitation only addresses by President Obama. White House visitor logs show that “CGI Federal President Donna Ryan visited the White House six times prior to her company being selected to do the IT design work behind the high-profile website.”
Two of the meetings attended by CGI executives were with Vivek Kundra, Obama’s chief information officer. Kundra was a key figure in Obama administration information technology initiatives across the government.
Ryan met Kundra on June 21, 2010, in the latter’s Old Executive Office Building office, according to the White House visitor logs.
In addition to the $88 million contract awarded to CGI Federal for the health-insurance exchange website, the company has received a total of $422 million in contracts related to Obamacare since the legislation was signed into law, according to Bloomberg News.
Fox News reported a number of occasions in which the company had failed to meet deadlines or experienced botched launches similar to that seen with the launch of healthcare.gov.
“In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance,” Fox reported.
“The morning I heard CGI was behind [Healthcare.gov], I said, my God, no wonder that thing doesn’t work,” said James Bagnola, a Texas-based corporate consultant who was hired by the Hawaii Department of Taxation (DOTAX) in 2008, to Fox News.
Bagnola suggested that CGI has been shrewd politically, giving to both Democrats and Republicans at both the state and federal levels. In the case of Hawaii, Bagnola said the company was able to continue to work on the DOTAX contract despite repeated complaints from management and a “corrosive” environment in which government employees felt pitted against CGI staff. This was noted in the final 2010 audit.
“I don’t have an ax to grind here, except I was just trying to do my job for this team and stop the state of Hawaii from being ripped off,” he said.
According to campaign records at OpenSecrets.com, CGI Group contributed $345,600 to federal candidates and parties — both Democratic and Republican — during the 2011-12 cycle. Some $147,000 went to the Republican Governors Association; and $35,000 to the Democratic Governors Association. The company spent $400,000 in lobbying expenditures between 2011 and 2012.