By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 04/29/14 03:14 PM EDT
The Obama administration is beginning a search for new private contractors to manage HealthCare.gov, the federal ObamaCare exchange that suffered from massive technical problems last fall.
Federal officials are doing early research to find a new vendor to run the website and are particularly interested in tapping small businesses owned by women, disabled veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged minorities.
HealthCare.gov eventually recovered from its botched rollout, and the administration succeeded in enrolling 8 million people during the open enrollment period. But Republicans are hoping the public's memory of the failed October launch will boost their candidates at the polls in November.
CGI Federal was the first contractor to run HealthCare.gov, but the site's glitches led the administration to bring in Accenture as the lead contractor early this year. Accenture’s contract expires in January 2015.
Following a tech surge, however, the website’s performance has improved and enrollment numbers exceeded expectations.
The Times suggested that the initial focus on small business “may reflect the administration’s displeasure” with how the site was managed by large contracting firms.
Aaron Albright, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, though, told The Hill that the preliminary study complied with normal federal contracting practices.
“As required by regular federal contracting procedures before CMS determines a contract strategy, we must perform market research in order to determine if there are any small businesses that could perform this work,” he said.