Sunlight Foundation helps shine a light on Obamacare Contractors

According to a recent article posted on the Sunlight Foundation web site, they recently reviewed contract award information from and, and found 47 organizations that won contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the Treasury Department to manage, support or service the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Among them were top contractors like Northrop Grumman, Deloitte LLP, SAIC Inc., General Dynamics, CGI Group, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Some 17 of these Affordable Care Act (ACA) contract winners reported spending more than $128 million on lobbying in 2011 and 2012, while 29 had employees or political action committees or both that contributed $32 million to federal candidates and parties in the same period. This ties back to disturbing observations from the Sunlight Foundation, that secret donors injected more than $300 million into last year’s elections. It leaves a very clear impression that the government has now become beholden to a few wealthy and influential companies.

The Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 2006 that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency. They do so by creating tools, open data, policy recommendations, journalism and grant opportunities to dramatically expand access to vital government information to help create accountability of our public officials to its citizens.

A related article entitled, "ObamaCare spending to top contractors tops $1 billion", written by Jonathan Easley and published in The Hill, further substantiated the Sunlight Foundation claims. This latest article states that a surge in government spending in the six months before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges went live pushed federal spending to top government contractors over the $1 billion mark.

Spending $1 billion to build the health insurance exchange (HIX) seems quite excessive. A number of recent articles have asked why the government didn't consider using the extensive 'open source' community, software, expertise and resources to help accomplish the task in a faster , more effective, and less costly manner. Perhaps that's a lesson to be learned here for future government initiatives.

Finally, Sunlight's findings did not include awards to contractors that built the 14 state exchanges. For example, Xerox Corp. won a $72 million contract to help build Nevada’s exchange and one for $68 million to do the same in Florida. Question – Is the software behind these state health insurance exchanges (HIX) in the public domain? If so, the code could be declared 'open source' and shared with other states thereby reducing the cost to those that will be bringing up their own exchanges over the coming years.


Contractor Penalties - I

Contractor Penalties - I wonder if there was a penalty in their contracts requiring companies to pay back the government for delivering a system that doesn't work properly? Does anyone know? There should be. What do you think?