Accenture gets fat contract


Geraldine Sealey
June 2, 2004 8:17PM (UTC)

One of the largest federal technology contracts ever awarded goes to .... Accenture (previously Andersen Consulting), based in Bermuda. Accenture will get as much as $10 billion to help manage the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, the system that screens foreigners entering and leaving the U.S. (This is the program the GAO last fall called a "risky endeavor" with an uncertain future because of high costs and lots of other barriers.)

There are questions surrounding the bidding, including why the government seems so unsure of how to handle border-protection that it's having corporations try to figure it out. The Wall Street Journal quoted a technology analyst who says the bidding contest "was unusual because instead of dictating requirements, the government left it to the companies to define 'their vision of how to track foreign visitors.' Homeland Security's guidance on the contract was so open that 'one of the bidders told me, 'I'm not sure if I'm building a red firetruck or a yellow submarine.'"

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A Democratic critic of the Accenture contract, Rep. Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, focused on the company's Bermuda location: "The Bush administration has awarded the largest homeland security contract in history to a company that has given up its U.S. citizenship and moved to Bermuda. The inconsistency is breathtaking," he said.

Accenture team member Titan Corp., has made headlines recently because some of its translators worked with U.S. military prison guards in Iraq, the Journal noted.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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