The thrift board work was only one in a series of troubled projects involving AMS at the federal level and in at least 12 states, according to government audit reports, interviews and press accounts. AMS-built computer systems sent Philadelphia school district paychecks to dead people, shipped military parts to the wrong places for the Defense Logistics Agency and made 380,000 programming errors for the Wisconsin revenue department, forcing counties to repay millions of dollars in incorrectly calculated sales taxes.
Lawrence Stiffler, who was director of automated systems for the thrift board at the time and a 25-year veteran of IT contracting for the federal government, said AMS was highly unreliable. "You couldn't count on them to deliver anything,'' he said.
In the years since the purchase, CGI has grown rapidly in the United States, dramatically expanding its role as a federal and state contractor. Agencies that tapped CGI Federal often rehired the company and, in the past two years alone, the company has been awarded contracts with at least 25 federal agencies worth $2.3 billion.
Earl Devaney, who chaired the board that oversaw President Barack Obama's economic stimulus program, praised CGI Federal's 2009 work on a website that collected information about how recipients used the federal money. "The system worked when it was supposed to work,'' Devaney said.
But the years since the acquisition have also brought concerns about the quality of some of CGI's work. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — the government agency that awarded the Affordable Care Act contract to CGI Federal — previously rejected the company's bid in 2010 to perform work on four health IT systems in part because of "performance issues" in carrying out an earlier contract, according to a Government Accountability Office ruling. CGI Federal had protested the CMS decision, but the GAO upheld it. Neither agency has publicly detailed what the "performance issues" involved.