NPR reports there were irregularities in the awarding of the contract to collect COVID-19 data to TeleTracking Technologies.
Earlier this month, Alex Azar, the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, and Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, instituted a new protocol for how hospitals were to report data on coronavirus patients. Rather than send the information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the data was to be sent to TeleTracking. Azar and Birx said the changes were needed to speed up reporting and make it more complete.
NPR now reports that HHS initially said TeleTracking received the contract through a sole-source contract, which is akin to a no-bid contract, but that HHS later said that was an error and that the contract was awarded competitively. However, NPR notes that the process used, a Board Agency Announcement, is typically for awarding contracts to fund the development of innovative solutions, not replace an existing database. It notes it is also unclear which other companies supplied bids. Further, it adds that TeleTracking CEO Michael Zamagias started out in real estate and has ties to a firm that has financed the Trump Organization.
According to NPR, Congress is looking into how the contract was awarded as well as into the decision to move responsibility for data collection from the CDC.