HHS procures system for tracking CARES Act health care provider relief

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The Department of Health and Human Services procured a commercial data-sharing platform for tracking its pandemic relief payments and grants to health care providers, without competing the nearly $10 million contract, according to a Monday award notice.

HHS made the award to i3 Federal, citing the urgency of launching a cloud-based HHS CARES Data Platform to coordinate disbursements under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The award was made under the same class justification and approval (J&A) the department used to make other “emergency acquisitions” with the $30 billion in CARES Act funds — namely two Palantir contracts worth $24.9 million benefitting the HHS Protect system informing the White House coronavirus response.

“Data collection and analysis is of the utmost importance in responding to CARES Act provider relief payments and grants, and coordinating efforts to collect that data will accelerate HHS’s work to protect the public and lessen the spread and impact of this virus,” reads the award notice. “With the increasing number of cases in the United States and across the globe, it is critical for the United States government to have access to all available resources to support efforts in the response.”

The CARES Act authorized the distribution of $100 billion to health care providers, including hospitals, treating the coronavirus. The relief is either “general” or “targeted,” with general distributions going to providers that billed Medicare fee-for-service in 2019 and diagnosed, tested or cared for a COVID-19 case after Jan. 31.

The HHS CARES Data Platform contract is authorized for 12 months under the class J&A, which remains in place for the duration of the national emergency President Trump declared March 13 or until revoked.

While the J&A states it will include documentation of the “extent of competition undertaken,” no such documentation was provided for the i3 Federal contract — similar to the Palantir contracts.

The Northern Virginia-based I3 Federal is a small, veteran-owned computer engineering company that was previously selected by NASA for its Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement V governmentwide acquisition contract in May 2015. That contract runs through April 30, 2025.

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CARES Act, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HHS Protect, i3 Federal, NASA, Palantir
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