The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will replace Verizon's Terremark unit with Hewlett-Packard as the hosting service for parts of the troubled Healthcare.gov web site.
The action comes at the end of the contract term. HHS will not renew the contract. Since the contract began in 2011, HHS has paid $55.4 million to Terremark under it, including an extra $9.4 million this month for expanded capacity.
The Terremark service hosts important parts of Healthcare.gov including the interchange between the Federal system, state run exchanges and insurers. The Federal system has been plagued with errors since it launched on October 1. Some state exchanges are performing better.
There is no indication in the WSJ article that the action is specifically related to the site's problems, but it also says that the government has "been aware of certain problems with the Terremark hosting services since late 2010, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began moving over some of its online systems to Terremark." The bidding process which resulted in the contract award to HP began in the spring, long before the site problems were publicly known. CMS is the agency which oversees Healthcare.gov.
The article also includes this disturbing revelation:
The Department of Health and Human Services designed the HealthCare.gov web site to handle failures within the application, but its design didn't include a full backup version of the site in a different data center, said people familiar with the matter. HealthCare.gov is still housed within a single data center and doesn't have a backup, said the people.
In September the government awarded $4 million to HP to provide disaster recovery services to Healthcare.gov, possibly including a backup site.