recommended reading

HHS Bought More Cloud Storage in the Days Before Launched


The agency in charge of bought an emergency cache of computing power from Verizon’s cloud division just days before the online insurance marketplace’s troubled launch on Oct. 1, 2013, contracting documents show.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services bought an additional $8.8 million in cloud computing power on Sept. 26 after stress tests revealed the site as it had been constructed could only handle about 10,000 concurrent users, far shy of its expected peak of 50,000 concurrent users, CMS said.

Verizon added that cloud space on Sept. 30, the day before went live, according to the notice posted on Friday to the Federal Business Opportunities contracting website. The move could add fuel to arguments the government was ill-prepared for the launch.

By late September, the cost of computer cloud space needed to share plan and price information with insurance seekers on and state-run Obamacare exchanges had already tripled to $37 million from roughly $11 million when Verizon’s cloud division Terremark first won the contract in 2011. The September modification brought that price tag to $46 million, more than four times CMS’ original estimate.

There was no requirement in Verizon’s contract that its cloud support a target number of concurrent users, so CMS was forced to purchase additional computing power, the agency said.

The document posted on Friday is a limited source justification. That means CMS bought cloud storage directly from Verizon because there wasn’t enough time to competitively bid for the service before’s planned launch four days later.

Federal contracting rules require agencies to post a justification for such non-competitive contracts within 30 days of implementing them. CMS did not immediately respond to a Nextgov query asking why this justification wasn’t posted until roughly four months later. performed disastrously upon launch, shutting most insurance seekers out of the site for several weeks. It has performed generally well since December, following a round-the-clock repair process.

House Republicans claim the site may still contain security gaps that could endanger insurance seekers’ personal information. CMS officials say the site meets all government security requirements and has never been successfully hacked. 

(Image via phloxii/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.