Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2017

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Move buys exchange board more time in hiring of new contractor

Facing tight deadlines to replace the shoddy software built by tech contractor Xerox, the Silver State Exchange Board made the decision to sidestep the traditional procurement process for hiring a private company at its Wednesday board meeting.

The board fired Xerox in May and now wants to access federal grants to rebuild the shoddy system operating the exchange’s website, Nevada Health Link. If the exchange wants to receive the money, it needs to complete an application by Nov. 14.

To complete the application, it must list a contractor’s price, said Shawna DeRousse, the exchange’s chief operating officer.

The exchange initially outlined a time frame that would have required the state to send out proposals by July 16 or Aug. 1. Interested companies would then have a month to make an offer. Then the state would have a month to choose a vendor.

But after warnings from state officials at a meeting last week, the board decided to give itself more options.

In the wake of the disastrous rollout of the exchange, the exchange is walking a tightrope to ensure that it hires a company that won’t repeat Xerox’s mistakes and will complete the job by the November 2015 enrollment period.

There were concerns that the normal process could result in a rush job that could lead to more headaches that the board has overseen since the exchange launched Oct. 1.

Now the board will be able to choose from two options that will give it more time.

“This gives us a longer period of time to develop the scope of work we want to do in tandem with the vendor,” said Barbara Smith Campbell, board chairwoman.

One provision would allow Nevada to hire a contractor to build an online health care system that’s similar to a system used by a state operating its own exchange.

Another option would allow the state to use current laws to bypass the competitive bidding process to hire a contractor.

The decision to skirt the formal process didn’t faze board members.

“We’ve gone through the formal (procurement process) and we ended with Xerox,” board member Marie Kerr said.

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