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Govt. Moves To Block Accenture's Award

An amendment passed June 9 by the House Appropriations Committee on a vote of 35-17 could jeopardize a contract potentially worth a minimum of $10 million and a maximum of $10 billion awarded only a week before to accenture by the U.S. department of Homeland security (DHS).

The contract was a major coup for the $11.82 billion global-management consulting, technology-services and outsourcing company, having bested teams led by Lockheed Martin and Computer Sciences Corp. Coming into question, and what was one of the concerns from the outset, was Accenture's foreign base in Bermuda, even though Accenture officials reportedly noted that the federal contract was awarded to its U.S. unit. The Accenture team comprises a group of major companies, including Dell; Global Technology Management; Raytheon; Sandler and Travis Advisory Services; Sprint; SRA International and Titan.

The committee's decision comes at a time when offshore outsourcing has become a political hot potato.

The 10-year contract, described by The Wall Street Journal as "one of the largest federal contracts in history," was to manage DHS' U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology program, known as US-VISIT, which the department launched at the beginning of the year in an effort to screen, through biometric technology, foreigners entering and leaving the country's borders. The prime contractor is to provide a wide range of professional services, such as strategic support, design and integration activities, technical solutions, deployment activities, training and organizational change management.

"This award marks an important milestone in the history of Homeland Security and the US-VISIT Program," said Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary of Border and Transportation Security for the DHS, at the time the award was announced. "By harnessing the power of the best minds in the private sector, we have taken a major step toward accomplishing our goals of enhancing the security of our country while increasing efficiency at our borders."

Scott Hastings, CIO at DHS' Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, had told GovernmentVAR in the Feb. 23 issue that the US-VISIT program is a top priority for DHS Secretary Tom Ridge. Not only is US-VISIT seen as essential to tracking those who enter and leave the country to prevent terrorist attacks, but the complexity of the project is a leading indicator of the DHS' ability to tie together information resources from across more than 20 agencies and law-enforcement entities. The DHS is currently in the first phase of consolidating those agencies.

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