Obamacare website-maker runs failed Army Human Terrain System program

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The company that earned the no-bid contract to build the failed Obamacare website also runs the Army’s disastrous Human Terrain System in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been accused of fraud, sexual harassment and racism.

The much-maligned Human Terrain System (HTS), launched in 2007, sends academics from social science fields like anthropology and linguistics into war zones to help soldiers understand the local population. The Army spent $58 million on the program in 2013, down from $114 million in 2011.

CGI Federal, the U.S. arm of the Canadian CGI Group and the designer of the failed Obamacare website, attempted a failed turnaround in HTS during the Obama administration. The young company, which employs Michelle Obama’s former Princeton classmate and Christmas guest Toni Townes-Whitley as a top executive, received eight figures from the Army in 2013 for the project, records reveal.

Oberon Associates, a CGI Federal subsidiary that joined the CGI portfolio in 2010, earned the $227 million contract to run HTS in 2011 in a deal that insiders said reeked of cronyism due to former HTS director Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s rumored friendship with an Oberon co-founder.

The HTS contract was one of CGI’s first big gets in the United States, as CGI Federal was only formed to bring the CGI Group into the federal contracting business in 2009.

CGI Federal received a more than $45.5 million modification this year to continue work on the Federal Terrain System.

“They took over in 2011. There were high hopes that CGI Federal could turn it around, but there’s a hearing going on now into fraud, waste and abuse,” John Stanton, author of “General David Petraeus’ Favorite Mushroom: Inside the US Army’s Human Terrain System,” told The Daily Caller.

“Many troops were injured defending Human Terrain system academics,” Stanton said. “I was just kind of stunned to see CGI Federal running that [Obamacare] website. To me, it’s an example of bad contracting and bad government oversight.”

HTS team members were found to have engaged in instances of fraud, sexual harassment and racism in 2009 and 2010, prior to CGI’s takeover, according to recently released documents. An Army internal investigation found program supervisors inflating overtime and comp time pay, and members even admitted to filing for hours that they didn’t work.

“My supervisor is the laziest, most incompetent human being I have ever met,” according to one internal Army complaint from a member of the program.

“Sexual harassment is prevalent and sexist behavior is an everyday occurrence; I was sexually harassed in the field repeatedly; sexual comments and jokes are rampant; nearly every female in the program faces some form of sexual harassment,” according to another complaint.

CGI’s management of the program failed to sufficiently turn things around, with Stanton noting that the problematic behavior continued.

The program’s failures have not escaped notice on Capitol Hill.

“The HTS reduction is long overdue and it’s good to see the Army take this initial action to downsize the program,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter of the House Armed Services Committee in 2013. “The program definitely requires an even closer look for reasons pertaining to both past performance and future necessity.”

“Who wants to keep the Human Terrain System around? Who in the Pentagon? Nobody else can figure it out,” Stanton said. “It’s a tragicomic program.”

CGI Federal did not return a request for comment.

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