The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the early stages of looking at new vendors to potentially take over operation of, when Accenture’s contract expires in January 2015.

Accenture was awarded a $90 million no-bid contract to take over the operation of the marketplace from CGI Federal, who CMS said in a January document it believed could not complete its work on the site in time.

A copy of CMS’s sources-sought notice, first obtained by Modern Healthcare, reveals the agency is seeking information about the availability and capability of small businesses to provide development and maintenance of the federally facilitated marketplace, including the development and enhancements to its eligibility and enrollment, financial management, plan management and SHOP applications. In January, testimony on Capitol Hill revealed that these systems were still in development.

The sources-sought notice is a routine part of the process set forth by federal guidelines for the expected re-competition of the contract for, explains CMS Spokesman Aaron Albright.  

Federal contracting guidelines required by the Small Business Administration mandate that before CMS determines a contract strategy, CMS must perform market research to determine if any small businesses could perform the work, Albright says.

As a result of the procurement process with the original Accenture contract, CMS is required to undertake this step, and Albright says the agency expects to release a new solicitation for the contract in the near future. The notice states that it is not a solicitation and no quotations or contracts will result from it. Responses are due by May 2.

Qasim Hussain, principal at Farmington Hills, Mich.-based X by 2, a technology consulting firm that works with insurers and health care companies, says that it is too early to draw any conclusions from this document.
“Accenture just got started. My experience for large projects like these it takes at least three to six months before you know whether the vendor is delivering quality software,” he explains. “You have to go through one or two releases to know if things are getting [better].”

Accenture said that the CMS action has “no reflection on our work for the client.”

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