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Accenture named lead contractor for Obamacare website: government

Visitors look at devices at Accenture stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Visitors look at devices at Accenture stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Albert Gea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Accenture has been chosen to replace CGI Federal as the lead contractor for the Obamacare enrollment website, which failed to work when it launched in October for millions of Americans shopping for health insurance, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said on Saturday.

CGI Federal, a subsidiary of CGI Group, built the website, HealthCare.gov, which was plagued by error messages and slow speeds for weeks after the launch. The glitches created a political crisis for President Barack Obama, threatening the roll-out of his signature healthcare law and emboldening Republican foes to call for its repeal.

"As CMS moves forward in our efforts to help consumers access quality, affordable health coverage, we have selected Accenture to become the lead contractor for the HealthCare.gov portal and to prepare for next year's open enrollment period," the agency said in a statement.

CGI Federal said on Friday that its contract, which was originally awarded in 2011 and is scheduled to end February 28, would not be renewed.

Accenture said the contract was worth $45 million for the initial phase of the project, and the Washington Post reported that the final value of the one-year contract would be about $90 million.

"Accenture will bring deep healthcare industry insight as well as proven experience building large-scale, public-facing websites to continue improving HealthCare.gov," David Moskovitz, chief executive of Accenture Federal Services, said in a statement.

Obama has said the fiasco with the website has made him want to overhaul the way the federal government buys technology services. Critics say the system favors large, established contractors such as CGI.

Although the site is vastly improved, technical glitches continue to bedevil enrollment. The improvements allowed more than 1.1 million people to shop for and enroll in insurance on HealthCare.gov by the end of 2013, far short of original hopes.

The deadline for signing up for 2014 health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is March 31, meaning Accenture will take over at a time when the government needs the site to handle what it hopes will be a surge of last-minute sign-ups.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Dan Grebler and Steve Orlofsky)

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