Last summer, the federal government was greeted with raised eyebrows when it awarded a UK-based firm a contract worth $1.2 billion to process Obamacare applications. At the same time, the company was being investigated for overbilling the British government tens of millions of pounds.
Though it managed to work through a year of Obamacare’s implementation relatively unnoticed, the contractor, Serco Inc., is back in the spotlight—and raising questions over the validity of its work.
A report by KMOV.com in St. Louis claims that Serco—tasked with processing Obamacare applications—is allegedly paying its workers to do nothing at all.
Employees told the local television station that they are instructed to simply stare at a computer screen and hit refresh every 10 minutes.
"There are some weeks that a data entry person would not process an application," an employee told KMOV.
The report suggests that Serco is keeping an unnecessary number of employees because it gets paid per worker, instead of by the number of applications they are processing. They are currently hiring.
The British-based contractor is still under investigation in the U.K.
Still, the administration has defended the company. Last year, amid the fraud investigation, Brian Cook, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Reuters, "Serco is a highly skilled company that has a proven track record in providing cost-effective services to numerous other [U.S.] federal agencies.”
Serco has spent millions lobbying in D.C. and contributing to campaigns, including upwards of $6,000 to the president’s reelection campaign, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
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