Schumer, Murray Demand Answers On Trump Admin’s Unexplained $10 Million Contract For System Which Has Since Replaced CDC In Controlling COVID-19 Hospital Data—A Move That Sidelines Public Health Experts

July 22, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, sent a new letter today to the head of TeleTracking Technologies, the company the Trump Administration recently awarded a six-month, $10.2 million contract that creates a system to replace the CDC as the collector of COVID-19 data from hospitals, demanding answers to better understand the circumstances in which this contract was awarded. The Senators seek to understand why in the middle of a rapidly escalating global pandemic, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services have curtailed use of a system that has collected public health data for over 15 years. The White House and HHS have stripped responsibilities for collecting COVID-19 data from hospitals away from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and instructed hospitals to send that information only to the newly established TeleTracking system created under the contract and the HHS Protect system. As of July 15, the White House and HHS explicitly instructed hospitals to cease reporting COVID-19 information to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), an unprecedented decision that effectively sidelines our nation’s leading public health experts who have collected real time data on infectious diseases for decades.
 
The Senators’ letter seeks detailed information regarding the contract including the process by which it was awarded, the White House and HHS personnel who spearheaded these efforts; and whether TeleTracking will be making COVID data available to the public in a manner consistent with past practices utilized by the NHSN COVID-19 module. It is imperative that COVID-19 data being collected by the federal government regarding hospital and Intensive Care Unit capacity, supply shortages, and more continue to remain available to the federal agencies, states, hospitals, and public.
 
The letter from Leader Schumer and Ranking Member Murray can be found here and below.
 
July 22, 2020
 
Michael Zamagias
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
TeleTracking Technologies Inc.
336 Fourth Ave #7
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
 
Dear Mr. Zamagias:
 
We write to request information regarding the recent contract awarded to TeleTracking Technologies Inc. (TeleTracking) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a new system for the collection and management of COVID-19 data from hospitals across the country.
 
Under the six-month contract for $10.2 million, the White House and HHS have stripped responsibilities for collecting COVID-19 data from hospitals away from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and instructed hospitals to send that information only to the newly established TeleTracking and HHS Protect systems. This represents a sudden and significant departure from the way the federal government has collected public health data regarding infectious diseases in the past.
 
Since 2005, the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) has served as a national database for key public health information from over 25,000 health care facilities across the United States, including during COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, the CDC launched a COVID-19 reporting module for hospitals to share capacity and utilization information, including patient numbers, supply shortages, remdesivir inventory, and ventilator usage rates with the federal government. The Trump Administration previously required hospitals and nursing homes to report this COVID-19 related data to the CDC. Since the creation of the NHSN COVID-19 module, a majority of U.S. hospitals have reported daily to the CDC on COVID-19 data, and many have built their own COVID-19 data management systems to comply with these directives.
 
We were alarmed to learn that, as of July 15, hospitals were explicitly instructed to cease reporting to the CDC network and instead directed to send information to TeleTracking to be reported into HHS’s recently created “HHS Protect” system. We are troubled by this misguided and dangerous decision, which sidelines our nation’s leading public health experts and needlessly creates new reporting systems for those on the front lines of this pandemic.  
 
In order to better understand the circumstances in which this contract was awarded to TeleTracking, please provide answers to the following questions no later than August 3rd, 2020:
 
  1. Please describe the process by which TeleTracking obtained a $10.2 million contract award with HHS’ Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Please also include a list and description of all contacts made with members of the Administration prior to the date the contract was awarded on April 6, including White House staff.
 
  1. Did TeleTracking engage in an open competition for the contract or was it awarded on a no-compete basis?  Please detail the contract application process and the HHS or other federal personnel with whom TeleTracking engaged during the application process.
 
  1. When did TeleTracking begin collecting COVID-19 data and providing it to the federal government? Please describe how the Administration came to engage TeleTracking to begin collecting COVID-19 data outside of the existing reporting channels found in the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.
 
  1. Has Teletracking been instructed to not share the collected data with any entities or the public?
 
  1. Please provide a list of any entities outside of the federal government, including any sub-contractors, that will also be involved in Teletracking’s efforts to collect COVID-19 for the federal government.  Please detail each of these entities’ roles in executing the contract.
 
  1. According to public reports, Insight Venture Management purchased $37 million in Teletracking stock in 2015. Does Insight Partners remain an investor in Teletracking? Who are the majority owners of and investors in the company? 
 
  1. Your web site indicates that you procure some supplies from China, and some of your coding services are provided by a sub-contractor based in India. Please provide more information on these procurement and contract relationships, including whether any products or services provided by foreign suppliers or sub-contractors will be involved in your contract to collect COVID-19 data for the federal government. 
 
  1. Please provide a copy of the full contract for award number 75A50120C00042 with HHS’ Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
 
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
__________________
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
__________________
Patty Murray
United States Senator
 

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