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Accenture can't design or build voter registration databases
Some of Accenture's problem areas as of June 2006
Colorado contracts with Accenture to help transform unemployment insurance delivery system
State faces new glitches on computers by Mark P. Couch
Colorado scraps Accenture voter registration system
Faulty system's fix-it deadline extended by Mark P. Couch
Denver Post Letters to the editor
Colorado and Accenture will not sue each other over a multimillion-dollar jobless insurance system
Full refund due from Accenture on late voter registration database by David Olinger
Accenture to face legislative scrutiny for failed projects by David Olinger
Colorado's choice of Accenture draws criticism by David Olinger
Bugs in Accenture's system for Colorado Department of Labor rile lawmakers
State agency seeks salvage fund for Accenture orphan code by Mark P. Couch
Millions needed for new car title system in Colorado after Accenture/Microsoft joint venture fails
State to cool its heels after computer meltdown
Colorado's costly computers
New voter rolls arouse more fears in Florida by Steve Bousquet
Elections officials gave Florida flawed felon voter list
Florida to cancel two multimillion-dollar technology contracts
Kansas to consolidate voter registration databases
Accenture and election.com to build voter registration and election management system for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Legislative hearing on Accenture's SURE voter registration system
Another state cancels another Accenture contract
Statewide voter registration system (SVRS)
Controversy swirls around Wisconsin's voter list contract with Accenture
Accenture-ating the positive by Mike McCabe,
Voter database behind schedule in Wisconsin by Patrick Marley
Software bugs delay Accenture's voter registration system
Lawmaker pushes to drop contract for voter registration system
Delays plague Wisconsin list of voters by Patrick Marley
Wisconsin finally ends deal with voting vendor in December 2007 by Todd Richmond
Media release (the official propaganda)
Secretary of State Meyer: State wanted too much, voter registration system dies
United States Marine Corps
Accenture wins USMC logistics pact
Marines tell Accenture to stop work
Marines terminate Accenture contract
Accenture sinks in British quagmire by Shruti Daté Singh
While playing a major role in the Enron scandal in 2001, the accounting firm Arthur Andersen split. The consulting branch became the offshore, Bermuda-based company now known as Accenture.
Always aggressive in marketing, Accenture proposed to a number of states that it could develop the statewide voter registration databases mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Naive and incompetent at best, crooked at worst, state election directors in many states thought the clever demonstrations presented by Accenture were the answers to their dreams. Besides, it was only taxpayer dollars they were spending.
The articles below outline many, but by no means all, of the resultant database disasters after Accenture was hired.
Note the recurring theme throughout from election officials that everything is fine, trust us. But there are many fundamental, unanswered questions about Accenture:
There is the unanswered question of why Americans should trust something so fundamental as elections to an offshore-based company?
There is the open question of how much Accenture has relied on H1-B programmers in these disasters? Given that as of June 2006 Accenture has 1,223 of its high-end technical positions filled by H1-B workers one suspects that many of its problems might be related to an undue reliance on foreign workers.
There is an overriding concern about national security when foreign workers are employed in such a fundamental operation as the control of American elections.
See map for current status of voter registration databases in all 50 states
Awarded contract to ES&S on January 10, 2005, to replace voter registration databases developed by Accenture.
Accenture responsible for creating the Florida 2004 error prone felon purge list, which was discarded after a court order forced its disclosure prior to the election. Miami Herald discovered that Accenture wrongly included 2,119 names among those listed for removal from Florida's voter registration roles for the November 2, 2004 election. Contract scrapped in July 2004 after several glaring mistakes were revealed in the voter registration list.
Arnold Tompkins, former director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services was accused and later confessed to steering state contracts toward Accenture. After Mr. Tompkins retired from his government post he was rewarded with a $10,000 a month consulting salary with Accenture.
Accenture won $18.5 million contract for voter registration and election management software in 2002. Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) is now in use in all 67 counties. Program continues to have issues.
Integrated Eligibility system operated by Accenture for Health and Human Services piloted in Austin. Newspapers across the state reported significant declines in food stamp, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program cases since pilot began.
Signed contract with Accenture, November 2004. State announced it will not meet the January 1, 2006 deadline for completion. Wisconsin's attorney general is looking at the contract to see if the state's Elections Board violated Wisconsin's open meetings law when entering into the contract with Accenture. Contract was finally terminated in December 2007.
As detailed in the section Internet Voting For Military Was An Open Invitation To Election Fraud. Accenture again failed to produce in the SERVE program and it was cancelled in February 2004.
Program was to include Internet, phone and public access kiosk voting; smart card deployment for voter authentication; and real-time, online voter registration rolls. In February 2006 MP Richard Bacon project shows "all the classic signs of a huge information technology failure."
Accenture News Archive
October 7, 2002 The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has awarded Accenture a 3 1/2-year, $39 million contract to help reengineer the state's unemployment insurance system.
The project, also known as Genesis, involves integrating tax and benefits information and business processes with the unemployment insurance system, which will be designed to improve customer services and increase efficiency. Once the work is complete, Colorado employers and claimants will be able to receive unemployment services and to access, update and submit key unemployment insurance information via the Internet and telephone.
At the same time, the modernized system, which will incorporate self-service automated voice response telephone and interactive Web-based features, will help the state better manage its unemployment insurance claims.
Claimants, customer service representatives and employers also will benefit from a number of the new system's capabilities. For instance, the new system will:
Provide customer service representatives with more complete access to customer unemployment insurance information, enabling them to provide real-time answers to customer inquiries.
Automate redundant and administrative tasks, minimizing paper transactions and reducing the time that agency staff spend handling mundane matters allowing staff to focus on such value-add areas as analysis, decision-making and service delivery.
Enable claimants to file and check the status of their claims and process biweekly claim continuation requests.
Enable employers to verify claimant coverage and wage information and monitor the status of their state tax accounts.
"The self-service functions will be particularly helpful as the state seeks to keep pace with the increasing demand for unemployment services resulting from the economic slowdown," said Chris Politte, a partner in Accenture's Government operating group. "By using technology to help stakeholders share information, the Department should be able to increase customer service by decreasing response times and eliminating unnecessary business processes."
The system is being built on the Avanade Connected Architectures for .NET residing on a Unisys ES7000 server. The Accenture team includes Microsoft, Unisys, Avanade and Siebel Systems, Inc.
© 2005 Denver Post
[EJF note: As of mid-2007 Colorado has a zero-percent success rate on database projects.]
December 1, 2005 The state of Colorado has another multimillion-dollar computer mess on its hands.
A year after the state's welfare-benefits computer system bogged down as soon as it was launched, lawmakers Wednesday discovered that the state Department of Labor and Employment had spent $39 million on a computer system that doesn't work.
"That's outrageous," said state Sen. Deanna Hanna, D-Lakewood, who cited the case as an example of lax oversight of state contracts by Republican Gov. Bill Owens' administration.
The problems, revealed during a legislative review of the department's budget request, surfaced on the same day that Secretary of State Gigi Dennis fired the same contractor Accenture LLP for its work on a $10.5 million voter-registration system.
The state's ongoing problems with computer-services contracts prompted lawmakers Wednesday to renew their call for more thorough legislative oversight of the process of hiring companies.
"That's why we need to change the state procurement process," said Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction. [EJF note: The procurement process may need overall but the major problems are with the uneducated, unqualified dimwits hired by Colorado to manage these projects.]
The labor department computer system called Genesis was supposed to combine the state's unemployment-insurance system into a single program that tracked tax collections from employers and benefits to unemployed workers.
So far, the state has spent 87 percent of its $44.8 million budget for Genesis, and the state's three-year time limit for spending the money budgeted for the project has expired.
In early November, the state labor department declared Accenture in "breach of contract" and launched confidential negotiations with the company to resolve the matter.
State budget experts said they were unable to prepare lawmakers for a future hearing because labor department officials are refusing to discuss the Genesis project and its negotiations with Accenture.
The "breach of contract" letter gives Accenture until Tuesday to cure performance problems with Genesis.
The letter states that Accenture refuses to complete the project without a "substantial increase in compensation," a demand that the state calls a "refusal to perform and a material breach of the contract."
Jim McAvoy, spokesman for Accenture, said the company has offered two options that would not cost the state more money. He declined to explain how the company would fix the problems.
Rick Grice, executive director of the department of labor, said he couldn't discuss the negotiations.
"We' re acting tough in return," Grice said. "We' re expecting them to deliver the product as advertised and as paid for."
Expensive computer problems have plagued the state in recent years.
The Genesis woes follow close on the heels of the defective Colorado Benefits Management System, which cost the state $200 million. Problems surfaced as soon as it was launched in September 2004.
In June, the legislature's Joint Budget Committee provided emergency funding of $5.75 million to shore up that system. EDS was the contractor for CBMS.
On Wednesday, Dennis fired Accenture after spending $10.5 million on the voter-registration computer system. Dana Williams, spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said the state decided that continuing the contract would be "throwing good money after bad."
McAvoy blamed the state for delays with the voter- registration system, saying it changed its preferred hardware and software.
Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-820-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2005 Denver Post
November 30, 2005 (AP) Colorado pulled the plug Wednesday on its problem-plagued voter registration computer system and will miss a January 1, 2006, federal deadline for having it up and running.
Dana Williams, a spokeswoman for Colorado's secretary of state, said the system had trouble registering voters and other problems. She said a letter was sent to the data-processing company Accenture canceling the $10.5 million contract.
The state has already spent $1.5 million on the system, she said.
"When we saw these problems, we decided we were not going to throw good money after bad. We' re going to get this fixed as soon as we can," Williams said.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires states to have statewide voter registration systems in place by January 1, 2006.
Federal officials won't seek to take over the elections of states that miss the deadline, "but we could seek an order from a federal court to comply," said Justice Department spokesman Eric Holland.
Accenture spokesman James McAvoy said the system could have been operating by the deadline had Colorado not scrapped the deal. He blamed the state for key delays, including decisions on software and hardware and giving Accenture access to information. [EJF note: No doubt there was enough blame to go around. See Bad Ideas.]
Earlier this year, Florida canceled its $2.3 million contract with Accenture after accusing the company of creating a flawed database of felons and dead voters. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania also have reported problems with Accenture election systems.
In Colorado, Adams County Clerk Carol Snyder said the state tried to do too much at one time, setting up a system that would update computers automatically from all agencies involved in elections, from county clerks to the Corrections Department.
Ms. Williams said the state may have to settle for a smaller system that would require county clerks and state agencies to submit information on voter registration once a day.
Opinion, Colorado Springs Gazette
December 2, 2005 (p. Metro6) How much time, money and trouble could Americans save if Congress would just stop trying to fix what isn't really broken? The short answer: plenty. In response to balloting irregularities and human error in certain Florida counties during the 2000 presidential election a debacle that cast a shadow over the legitimacy of George Bush's presidency in certain minds Congress in 2002 handed down a spate of new federal mandates in a measure dubbed the Help America Vote Act. Most Americans didn't need or ask for Washington's help. They were getting along perfectly well on their own, thank you. But because some Floridians goofed up, the rest of us would have to pay.
These mandates were imposed on every state and every county in the land, whether or not they had experienced voting problems, in a typically Washingtonian overreaction to a problem that could have/should have been addressed by locals in the precincts where the problems occurred. But in trying to fix what wasn't broken, Congress has caused a new spate of problems and headaches, by heaping complicated and costly new mandates on state and local election officials. Among them is a requirement that states consolidate all voter rolls into a single database.
The reason for this mandate is by now long forgotten, but the consequences of meeting it continue. Secretary of State Gigi Dennis this week fired Accenture, the company that had a $10 million contract to build Colorado's database, after sinking $1.5 million into the effort. The company wasn't going to meet the January 1, 2006, federal deadline. Dennis' office says it distrusted the system's reliability. The company says the state is responsible for imposing too many change orders.
Whoever is to blame, Colorado isn't alone in struggling to meet the mandate. At least 17 other states are in danger of missing the deadline, due to similar problems. The states are hoping Uncle Sam will cut them some slack.
Is a statewide voter database even necessary? Some believe it will help prevent convicted felons from voting and cut down on other forms of voter fraud, but we wonder if the promised benefits compensate for the costs and hassles involved. Building and maintaining accurate databases isn't the government's forte, as a long list of federal and state database debacles have demonstrated. And there are probably less expensive, less grandiose, less new-fangled ways to deal with such issues. But government bureaucrats relish their playthings. And politicians love to act as if they are responding to crises even ones that don't exist.
We're glad the state had the good sense to cut its losses and shop around for a better contractor, even if it puts Colorado a little further behind the eightball. But we wouldn't be behind this eightball, or be having to fire and replace contractors, or having to hassle with any of this, if Congress had simply shown a little restraint and let states and counties with voting problems solve this themselves.
© 2005 Denver Post
December 7, 2005 Colorado officials have given computer contractor Accenture LLP two more weeks to fix the broken $44.8 million system it installed at the state Department of Labor and Employment.
Rick Grice, executive director of the Department of Labor, told lawmakers Tuesday that Accenture has until December 20, 2005, to propose a cure for the unemployment-insurance computer system.
"We are involved in intense, head-banging, no-nonsense negotiations even at this moment," Grice told the legislature's Joint Budget Committee. [EJF note: Head banging is probably appropriate because they certainly weren't using their brains.]
The state signed a $40 million contract with Accenture in April 2002, but two key components of the five-piece system still do not work. Grice called them the "meat of the coconut."
State lawmakers have budgeted a total $44.8 million for the project. The state has already spent $35.8 million, Grice said.
The labor department computer system called Genesis was supposed to combine the state's unemployment-insurance system into a single program that tracked tax collections from employers and benefits to unemployed workers.
Neither part of the system is operating. Under the original terms of the contract, the tax portion was supposed to be running in October 2003 and the benefits system by May 2004. The updated contract gave the company until November 2004 for the benefits portion and December 2004 for the tax part.
In November 2004, officials from the department of labor assured the Joint Budget Committee the system would be running soon.
Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, Tuesday wanted to know why lawmakers weren't told then "if these problems were apparent at this time last year." [EJF note: If the legislature had been aware of Accenture problems in 2004 they probably wouldn't have gotten the contract for the voter registration database. So screwups had to be kept secret.]
"I'm bothered by it and I want you to know I'm bothered by it," said Buescher, who later added that he was relieved to hear Accenture has a $40 million performance bond, which gives the state greater leverage to negotiate a solution with the company.
Negotiations broke down in April 2005 and the state began "dispute resolution" proceedings in May. Accenture offered a solution in June, for an additional $19.9 million.
State officials sent a breach of contract letter in July, but rescinded it to again try negotiations. In August, Accenture revised its proposal and said the state would have to pay $9.8 million to get the system finished by June 2006 for benefits and the tax system done by November 2006.
The state rejected the offer and sent another breach of contract letter last month. Accenture had until Tuesday to cure the problem but was given until December 20, 2005, in recent talks.
Grice, who joined the department in February, said he inherited the troubled system that has consumed the "vast preponderance of my time and headaches." [EJF note: Classic bureaucratic tactic. Give the problem to the new guy and let him take all the flack while the nincompoops who caused the problems hide.]
On Tuesday, the budget committee held an executive session with Grice and other labor department officials ejecting the public from the meeting to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit against Accenture.
Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-820-1794 or email@example.com.
December 7, 2005 Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis did the right thing by firing the contractor hired to create our state's centralized voter list. But why did it take so long to start the project? The Help America Vote Act became law in 2002. The original deadline to create a centralized voter registration system was January 1, 2004. Accenture wasn't even hired until after Colorado received a two-year extension. Furthermore, why did it take so long to terminate the contract? We are approaching 2006. If Dennis is correct, and Accenture has "missed every deadline" since 2004, then the contractor should have been replaced earlier. Why didn't former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson take the appropriate action earlier in 2005? Why did Dennis wait until now? The Post raises an important point when it says that state voters must have confidence in the machinery of elections. It is the responsibility of the secretary of state to maintain that confidence. Failure to start projects in a timely manner and to meet deadlines does little to secure the public trust.
Rick VanWie, Denver
December 7, 2005 I read with interest your editorial about this state's computer troubles. Having worked on large systems for the states of New York and New Jersey as an analyst, I know where many of the pitfalls lie. There is a methodology for building computer systems that outlines the steps necessary to get a soundly written, tested, up-and-running system.
The major weakness in building a system is generally insufficient analysis and lack of documentation of the analysis. No one likes to document, so you start with a problem. Workers who you are interviewing for the design of the new system take weeks and often months before they realize what kind of information you need and what is possible with a newer system. One must go back to the same interviewees repeatedly.
The next big mistake is in the testing of the system. The final system must be tested off line before going live, and one does not take a whole system live at once. You do it piecemeal while running parallel with the old system unless you have the option of a duplicate set of hardware.
Another, more obvious mistake is in thinking that one model, one group of processes, will be appropriate for every group of users.
A good system does take time. If your contractor tells you otherwise, don't believe him. Change orders are the rule of the day, but you can head off many with a sound analysis up front. That, with documentation, saves time in the long run.
Grace Todd, Idaho Springs
© 2005 by Mark P. Couch, DenverPost.com
December 21, 2005 The state of Colorado ended months of protracted negotiations with contractor Accenture LLP on Tuesday, dumping the company after the state poured $35 million into a computer system that doesn't work.
The state and the company agreed not to sue each other and released a joint statement saying they "mutually agreed to terminate" the contract for a new unemployment-insurance system.
In addition, Accenture agreed to refund $8.2 million and to release $7 million more that it claimed the state owed for work it already had completed, said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for Gov. Bill Owens.
"The labor department is confident that with the $15 million, they can complete the project," Hopkins said. [EJF note: Doesn't that claim sound familiar? Give us even more public money and everything will be fine. Of course it is the same dimwits who blew the original bundle who want more cash.]
Jim McAvoy, spokesman for Accenture, called the agreement "satisfactory."
"When you mutually terminate, it is not a termination for cause," McAvoy said. "In our industry, a termination for cause is when something goes wrong. With the cure that we offered, we have created a way for the state to complete the system at little or no cost to taxpayers." [EJF note: Take heed those of you in need of bovine scatology to cover your posteriors.]
Three of the five pieces in the system called Genesis are working, but two others, which officials said were the most important, don't work. Those pieces track tax collections from employers and jobless benefits paid to unemployed workers. [EJF note: And were not those two problems the reason Genesis was supposedly needed?]
Problems with Genesis flared three weeks ago when state lawmakers began reviewing budget requests from the Department of Labor and Employment, which administers unemployment benefits.
Genesis is not the state's only troubled computer system. The secretary of state fired Accenture in November after spending $1.5 million on a $10.5 million voter-registration system.
And the $204 million Colorado Benefits Management System developed by EDS continues to roil lawmakers with requests for additional money.
The multimillion-dollar failures have prompted calls for a change in how the state hires technology consultants. [EJF note: Perhaps Colorado should hire engineers and computer scientists rather than lawyers to manage these projects?]
"It seems like we get in the middle of these projects and we' re grateful to get a few crumbs back," said Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Jefferson County. "That's unacceptable."
Fitz-Gerald claimed the Republican Owens administration obstructed a study committee's effort to explore the state contracting system this summer by declining to let his agency heads discuss contracting matters. [EJF note: The Owens administration has an extremely sorry history with technical projects and the reaction is to try and hide the problems, a typical bureaucratic reaction.]
"As far as information technology is concerned, we don't have a mechanism in place to make sure that we' re spending every dollar appropriately," she said. "We tried to do it this summer and, by God, we will do it during this legislative session." [EJF note: But of course nothing was done.]
Hopkins said the high-profile breakdowns mask the state's success with more than a 100 other computer projects. [EJF note: None of these successes are tabulated. They probably amount to installing a PC and turing it on, unless, of course, it is in the Sec. of State's office where zinc crystals in the deep-pile carpet cause problems.]
"There are many projects that the state has completed successfully," he said. "But we can also learn from projects like this. There may need to be a high-tech watchdog to oversee certain large projects."
Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-820-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2005 Denver Post
December 30, 2005 Colorado will get a full refund from the company that failed to deliver a statewide voter registration system on schedule.
In an agreement announced Thursday, Accenture LLP will pay $2 million to Colorado and terminate its contract to provide software for computerized voter records.
That covers the $1.5 million Colorado already has paid for the Accenture system, plus staff time spent on a product the state will not use.
Colorado officials who negotiated and accepted the refund agreed not to publicly criticize their vendor. [EJF note: Gee, isn't that sweet! Of course, Colorado criticizing Accenture would be the pot calling the kettle black.]
"They were OK, and they were good to work with," Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis said. "The project just didn't meet our expectations." [EJF note: Good to work with? What, Accenture bought dinner and drinks? We also note that Gigi Dennis is not technically qualified.]
The canceled contract will force Colorado to miss an imminent federal deadline for complying with the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Colorado's contract with Accenture required the company to deliver the basic product for that system last April. Accenture "offered to deliver a product in November," Dennis said, which her office decided not to accept.
The cancellation means Colorado will have to start over again on a computer contract awarded in 2004. Dennis said there is a risk of federal penalties for failing to comply with the 2002 voting law.
Dennis noted that election officials in other states are calling Washington for extensions.
"There are 17 other states out there that will miss the January 1, 2006, deadline," Dennis said.
Her office plans to rewrite its request for a voter registration system in the next few weeks and seek new bids from vendors.
At this point, Dennis does not know whether Colorado can have that system in time for the 2006 elections. If not, the state will have to rely on its existing voter records.
"The counties themselves have a good system in place," Dennis said. [EJF note: Thankfully! Colorado elections would be a total disaster if we depended solely on the Secretary of State's office.]
Staff writer David Olinger can be reached at 303 820-1498 or email@example.com.
© 2006 Denver Post
January 4, 2006 A Colorado state agency has paid a private consultant more than half a million dollars to manage its failed voter-registration project.
The secretary of state selected the consultant and a state employee supervising the project without letting anyone compete for either job. And when the employee left midway through the project, a second state agency awarded him a top government job, again without competition.
The consultant, Brian Mouty, has been paid $557,382 since April 2003 to develop and manage a computer project awarded to Bermuda-based Accenture LLP, according to the secretary of state's office.
The employee, Drew Durham, now earns $103,000 a year $13,000 more than Colorado's governor as the new inspector general at the Department of Labor and Employment. [EJF note: Rumor has it that attorney (no technical background) Durham was let go prior to this by the Texas Attorney General's office for racist comments or behavior.]
State legislators expressed astonishment at the payments to the Mouty Group, which remains the manager of Colorado's unfinished project to create a computerized, statewide voter-registration database.
They plan hearings to investigate Colorado's two failed projects with Accenture, a company that lost or failed to meet deadlines on voter-registration contracts in other states.
"These are privatized contracts, and we are not getting a good deal," Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald said. " We want to look at the procurement process legislatively and make sure that the people who are writing these contracts are writing them to the advantage of the state." [EJF note: We'd suggest first looking at the state's project management, and lack thereof.]
Durham and Mouty said they worked hard to ensure that Accenture performed on its contracts and to keep state officials informed as problems arose. They also say that their involvement with Accenture contracts awarded by two state agencies is coincidental and that they had no prior contacts with the company.
Colorado has endured a series of headaches with new computer systems. In 2004, a social services benefits system from Electronic Data Systems malfunctioned, forcing agencies to set up food banks while hungry applicants waited for food stamps. Recently, the labor department and the secretary of state's office both canceled contracts with Accenture.
The labor department has spent $35 million since 2002 for an incomplete system that was supposed to merge the benefits and tax sides of its unemployment insurance program.
The secretary of state missed a federal deadline this week to install a new system capable of tracking eligible voters statewide. It is starting over on that project after terminating a $10.5 million contract with Accenture last month.
At the labor department, Durham helped draft the unemployment insurance contract and, according to his résumé, chaired the project steering committee, which he described in 2003 as the only information technology project in Colorado "that is in scope, on budget and on time."
Mouty served for about five months as co-director on a watchdog contract awarded to verify that Accenture was meeting the terms of a $40 million computer project.
At the secretary of state's office, Drew Durham led state efforts to comply with the 2002 Help America Vote Act, or HAVA. In that role, he helped draft the state request for a computerized voter-registration system, served on the committee that chose Accenture and helped negotiate its contract. [EJF note: All without any known qualifications for doing these jobs.]
As HAVA project manager, Mouty also helped draft the request for a computer system and supervised Accenture's delivery of that system.
Former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson said she personally selected both men without considering other applicants for either role. [EJF note: For which she was nicknamed the Secretary of Stupidity. Now this dimwit is with the federal Election Assistance Commission where she is an even greater danger to elections.]
She said she did so partly because the new federal law gave states little time to buy new equipment and set up new voter-registration systems. [EJF note: Davidson didn't even start the selection process until more than two years after HAVA passed and she had been granted an extension.]
"We did not open it up" to other applicants, she said, and "I didn't have to open it up."
She said Durham learned of the new position, submitted a résumé and was recommended by the former elections director in Texas, where Durham had served in the attorney general's office. Mouty, who previously headed Colorado's Y2K program, "had great respect through the state," Davidson said.
Durham took a pay cut almost $16,000 a year to become the HAVA director in 2003. He said he did so because he found the challenge exciting, even though it required some belt-tightening at home.
Months before the Accenture contract was canceled, Durham quit as HAVA director and returned to the labor department, again to a position awarded noncompetitively.
Rick Grice, Colorado's new labor secretary, said department officials have assured him that Durham's new job did not have to be advertised under state personnel rules.
Durham said he negotiated intensely on Colorado's behalf on both Accenture contracts, and he believes that helped the state terminate those contracts at minimal costs. "We need to keep our eyes on the facts," he said. "Nobody's happy with how the Accenture things turned out, but we managed to come away whole."
Mouty said he had never worked for or with Accenture before he was hired to help watch over its labor department contract and manage the secretary of state's contract.
On both contracts, "I believe I did a good job," he said. [EJF note: If he thinks he did a good job here lets hope he is never asked to do another job for Colorado.]
Some legislators say they need to know more about the choices Colorado departments made on both Accenture contracts and about the payments to Mouty's consulting business.
"It troubles me greatly. That's going to be something we look at when the session gets started," said state Sen. Deanna Hanna, a Lakewood Democrat. [EJF note: Lot of hot air. Nothing was done.]
Accenture recently agreed to refund the money Colorado spent toward a computerized voter-registration system. It also agreed to cancel $7 million in outstanding bills and refund $8.2 million on the unemployment insurance system.
Gigi Dennis, Colorado's new secretary of state, said agency payments to Mouty are in line with industry standards, and he has done a good job of monitoring Accenture's performance.
But the state may seek a new project manager, and if it does, "we'll probably do something competitive," Dennis said.
Accenture is a giant global company, incorporated in Bermuda, with about 20,000 projects in 75 countries last year. Company spokesman Jim McAvoy said "the vast majority" of those projects "are on time and on schedule."
He described the cancellations of its Colorado contracts as mutual agreements to terminate relationships, not failures to deliver products, and called the labor department work 70 percent complete.
Kansas, like Colorado, canceled its voting system contract with Accenture and has hired another company. Wyoming and Wisconsin are continuing to work with the company, but elections officials in both states say they are months away from completing systems that federal law required to be done by the first of this year.
Wisconsin is "asking for fixes to be made" on a $14 million Accenture project, said Kyle Richmond, a spokesman for its state elections board.
Staff writer Mark Couch and staff researcher Barbara Hudson contributed to this report.
Staff writer David Olinger can be reached 303-820-1498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2006 Denver Post
January 12, 2006 The leading supplier of voter registration systems to Colorado counties claims the state was biased in awarding a failed $10.5 million contract for a statewide voting system.
In protest letters, Votec Corp. chief executive John Medcalf complained two years ago and maintains today that counties his company served were largely excluded from the committee that rejected his bid and others for the project.
He also criticized the state's choice of Accenture LLP, "a company with a troubled history in voter registration and elections," the limited time he was given to demonstrate his system; and the committee's failure to visit counties that were using it.
"Not one county elected official nor elections manager who chose (Votec's system) sat in the room to add their knowledge these many months," Medcalf wrote in June 2004 to Brian Mouty, the private consultant hired to manage Colorado's statewide voter registration project.
State officials and committee members deny Medcalf's claims. They say that the 11-member committee fairly represented Colorado, that all bidders were given equal opportunities and that Accenture was the unanimous choice of the 11 people who painstakingly pored over suitcase-thick proposals from the finalists. [EJF note: The Colorado Secretary of State is noted for assembling Blue Ribbon Committees of people who have no technical or project management experience.]
"It was the fairest process that I've been involved in. Everything was thoroughly reviewed," said Alamosa County Clerk Holly Lowder. "And am I disappointed? Yes."
Two years later, Colorado has no statewide voter registration system, has missed a federal deadline requiring each state to install one by January 1, 2006 and has no contractor to do the job.
Gigi Dennis, Colorado's new secretary of state, canceled the contract after Accenture failed to deliver a usable product on time. The company agreed to refund Colorado's expenses.
Dennis said her office is still working on a new request for a statewide voter registration system and that it's "too soon to tell" whether Colorado will have it in time for this year's elections.
She also may seek applications for a new project manager and plans to broaden the selection committee by adding county clerks.
But she also defended the previous selection process, noting that two of the 11 committee members came from counties using the Votec system. In a competitive bid, she said, "sometimes you don't come out on top."
Medcalf, the Votec chief executive, said he continues to believe there was a "recognizable injustice" in Colorado's selection process. He contends the state team assembled by Donetta Davidson, Dennis' predecessor, emphasized flashy technology over familiarity with Colorado election laws, and its members "were working overtime" to avoid using Colorado's leading system.
"Why were the representatives of 60 percent of the voters being kept out?" Medcalf asked.
The company that prevailed Accenture has struggled to provide voter registration systems in other states. Kansas canceled its Accenture contract, and projects in Wisconsin, Wyoming and Pennsylvania fell behind schedule.
Company spokesman Jim McAvoy said Accenture is succeeding in the latter three states, with pilot programs running in Wisconsin and Wyoming and "full implementation" in Pennsylvania on a contract awarded in 2002. [EJF note: Disasters all. See links.]
In Colorado, the team that selected Accenture praised its presentation and a demonstration model that looked well-designed and easy to use. They characterized Votec as an aging workhorse and its company chief as inflexible by comparison. [EJF note: And all Colorado ever got was a flashy demonstration and promises.]
Of Colorado's nine most populous counties, all but Boulder and Denver use a Votec system for elections. Elected clerks in those counties say they are pleased with their existing systems and Votec's responsiveness to changing election needs.
But none of those county clerks served on the selection committee. The information technology manager [John Gardner] from El Paso County did, however, [and then went to work for the Secretary of State on this project] along with an appointed clerk from the smaller county of Broomfield. Both use Votec.
Davidson, the former secretary of state, said she worked with consultant Mouty and others to create a diverse selection team with five people from her office and six others from small, medium and large counties across the state.
"It was a very fair process," she said. [EJF note: It was a process that didn't work and should not be repeated.]
Accenture's model "was just slick and smooth," said Bobbi Perry, Logan County's clerk. "There were limitations, of course, because it was a prototype." [EJF note: Mockups always look pretty. Functioning systems usually look clumsy and dirty by comparison.]
Some county clerks who use Votec software questioned the decision to install an untried system months before a statewide election and wondered why they were not invited to help make such an important choice.
"I think all the counties were dismayed as to the choice and the time period," said Jefferson County clerk Faye Griffin.
The Colorado county with the most voters "would have liked to have some input regarding the choice," Griffin said. "We were really surprised when the secretary of state chose Accenture," she said and are "very relieved that contract was terminated."
Larimer County clerk Scott Doyle, another Votec customer, said he offered to serve on the selection committee but was not chosen.
"I guess there was a little head-scratching going on" when Accenture won, but "I wasn't trying to second-guess" the secretary of state, he said.
When some counties questioned the state's decision two years ago, the voter project manager sent an e-mail urging solidarity in the selection committee.
Mouty noted rumors that some team members were wavering on the Accenture contract. "Some folks may be trying to create conflict among the team to demonstrate turmoil and discredit the result," he warned. "Do not let these rumors weaken the foundation of our team and its decision."
Staff writer David Olinger can be reached at 303-820-1498 or email@example.com.
© 2006 April M. Washington, Rocky Mountain News
January 21, 2006 State lawmakers accused the Colorado Department of Labor Friday of dragging its feet in getting a troubled, $40-million computer update back on track.
The new "Genesis" system, designed to track unemployment taxes and benefits, was supposed to go online in 2004. It has cost the state $27 million so far and is functioning at just 25 percent capacity.
Labor Department Director Rick Grice took the brunt of the blame.
"This project is in trouble, and you've been on the job for more than two days," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. "I expect you to act like you' re not taking no prisoners. I want to start understanding what we are building on. No answer is not good enough, and I'm as serious as a heart attack."
Grice, stunned by the attack, told the commission his department must regroup to determine how best to move forward.
He told lawmakers and members of the Commission of Information Management that he would have a progress report for them by March.
Grice, appointed in June to head the agency, came under fire for what some commission members perceived as an unwillingness to hold managers accountable for missteps.
But Grice remained optimistic.
"By September, we'll be ready to get out on the street and figure out what we can do to bring this baby home," Grice said.
The goal is to bring the system completely online by 2007.
Lawmakers' impatience was fueled by the state's recent yanking of two computer contracts with technology giant Accenture, following complaints of slow progress and mounting costs.
Accenture officials dispute that, blaming the state for the delays and cost overruns.
On Friday, Grice reported that the state had received an $8.2 million refund from Accenture. Added to the $7 million the state has withheld in pending payments, that's $15 million the Labor Department will use to hire a new contractor to finish the job.
At least a half-dozen states have terminated contracts with Accenture or have complained about the company's performance in recent years.
"We have issues with this same company, and here on out a contractor's past performance ought to be a part of the consideration," said commission member Jim Mulford.
The commission also received an update on the state's other Accenture-designed computer system, the one for voter registration.
Secretary of State Gigi Dennis said her office is starting over and will search for a new contractor to build the $10 million statewide system.
The new system will not be in place by the November elections, however, and counties will stay with their present systems for the next election, Dennis said.
© 2006 Denver Post, p. 1B
April 18, 2006 The labor department wants $2.3 million to save some of the work on a system that was intended to track unemployment taxes and jobless benefits.
Colorado labor department officials have asked state lawmakers for $2.3 million to salvage some of the work left behind as part of a $35 million computer project that was dumped last year.
Lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee tentatively approved giving the money on Monday, but only after extracting a promise from department officials to provide regular updates on the work.
Still, lawmakers were skeptical.
"My gut feeling is that you' re going to throw a lot of good money after bad," said Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction. "My gut feeling is to cut your losses."
Rick Grice, executive director of the state Department of Labor and Employment, said that Accenture, the contractor, left behind about 1 million lines of computer code and state officials don't know whether it works. [EJF note: Has anyone ever successfully used 1 million lines of orphan computer code? A few subroutines, maybe.]
The $2.3 million would provide funding for the state to hire nine extra workers and to cover the expenses of evaluating the code.
Grice said tossing away the code would waste money the state has already spent on the "Genesis" project, which was designed to track unemployment taxes and jobless benefits.
Last December, Accenture agreed to refund $8.2 million and to waive another $7 million of the $35 million that the state had been charged for the system.
Three pieces of the five-part system worked, but the two largest and most critical components taxes and benefits did not. [EJF note: In short, what works isn't what was needed, and what doesn't work is what the system was supposed to do.]
After the settlement, the state was stuck with a million lines of computer code related to those components and no documentation to figure out how that code was supposed to work.
"We played hardball with the contractor and we walked away in as good a shape as could have been expected," Grice said.
Lawmakers challenged whether spending more money on a system that doesn't work is the best way to proceed.
"You need to convince me that it is better to do this than to start anew," said Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction. "How have you decided there is enough value there to spend $2.3 million on this?"
Sen. Dave Owen, R-Greeley, suggested that the Genesis project should be renamed "Phoenix" because this was an attempt to rise from the ashes.
Labor department officials said the state had spent about $12 million for the computer code, but got $8.2 million refunded so its investment is worth about $4 million.
With the $2.3 million, the department aims to hire the nine extra workers who would complete their evaluation of the code by November.
If lawmakers denied the $2.3 million, Grice said, they would be hurting state officials who fought Accenture to get so much money returned.
"It kind of feels like we' re being penalized for driving a hard bargain for settling up with the contractor," Grice said.
To start again would cost the state much more than $2.3 million, Grice said, noting that the state of New Jersey recently hired Accenture to do similar computer work for a cost of $40 million. [EJF note: They want $2.3 million more but don't say what happened to the $8.2 million that was supposedly refunded. Something doesn't add up. If they got the $2.3 million they would have $10.5 million to build a new system the way we learned arithmetic.]
Grice assured the committee that it would provide timely reports that would allow the state to stop spending money if the code could not be saved.
"If it becomes evident that this is unworkable," Grice said, "we'd turn it back and we would not spend all of the money."
Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-820-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2007 by Mark P. Couch, Denver Post Staff Writer
August 14, 2007 The cost of replacing Colorado's scrapped computer system for license plate information could be as much as $15 million, a state official said Monday.
The new Colorado State Titling and Registration System, or CSTARS, was stalled earlier this year after state officials discovered that it was providing incorrect information to law enforcement agencies.
Colorado has spent $10.9 million so far on CSTARS, which is no longer operational. On Monday, state chief information officer Michael Locatis said replacing the scrapped system could cost as much as - or more.
"Absent any assessment, that's reasonable thinking," Locatis said in reply to Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, when asked if it would cost $10 million to $15 million to implement a new computer system for the title and registration system.
Locatis and other officials met Monday with members of the legislature's finance committees.
Since pulling the plug on CSTARS in the spring, state officials have avoided saying how much it would cost to replace or fix it.
Roxy Huber, executive director of the Department of Revenue, said some of the money invested in CSTARS will not be lost because it was to buy computer equipment and high-speed connections for counties that rely on the system.
The state is currently negotiating with the CSTARS vendor, Avanade Inc., a joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and Accenture. Avanade's contract, which expires in October, calls for the state to pay $12.5 million for the company's services.
William Browning, principal for the North Highland Co., told lawmakers that the existing system that was to be replaced by CSTARS has about two years of usefulness left.
Browning's company analyzed why the CSTARS system failed. The report, released in July, found widespread mismanagement dating back to the inception of the program.
The woes included a lack of understanding about what the program needed to do, a lack of experience among the managers in charge of the program and high turnover among the people involved.
Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-954-1794 or email@example.com.
denver & the west
© 2007 by Mark P. Couch, Denver Post
August 22, 2007 Colorado officials will wait at least 18 months before trying again to replace the unemployment-benefits computer system it scrapped in December 2005 after spending $24.2 million.
The Genesis project was one of the state's high-profile computer meltdowns at the end of Republican Gov. Bill Owens' administration.
On Tuesday, officials with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said they want to revamp the process for reviewing computer contracts and hire a new chief information officer before seeking technology to replace the existing system.
"I doubt you'll see another RFP (request for proposals) on the street for another 18 months," said Mike Cullen, director of unemployment insurance for the department.
Cullen disclosed the year-and-a-half delay at a meeting Tuesday with lawmakers on the Legislative Audit Committee.
Gary Estenson, deputy executive director of the department, said officials plan to work more closely with the state's top chief information officer, Mike Locatis, who was hired by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter to shape up the state's computer-buying process.
"We need our approach and structure in place before we proceed with a contract," Estenson said.
While it prepares for a new system, the department will depend on the existing system, which is more than 20 years old.
The state auditor on Tuesday released its second report on the Genesis project, finding "significant breakdowns" in the Department of Labor's management.
The new report says, "We found that the department's project directors did not independently monitor the contractor to ensure the project stayed on schedule."
In fact, the department waited four months before reporting critical problems to the state Committee on Information Management, which was then in charge of such projects.
The contractor was Accenture LLP. The entire contract was $40.8 million and the system was originally supposed to be completed in October 2003.
Ultimately, the state paid $24.2 million after refusing to make some payments and getting an $8.2 million refund after the company's contract was terminated in December 2005.
Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-954-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Clearly the managers of computer projects in Colorado are grossly incompetent. Of course the vendors take full advantage of this incompetence to steal millions.]
CBMS The $223 million welfare-benefits system, developed by EDS and used by the counties and the state, has been hampered by many problems since it was unveiled in 2004. In April, the federal government ordered the state to repay $11.2 million in overpaid benefits.
CSTARS The Department of Revenue's new program stalled in April, after the state spent about $10 million. The program by Avanade was providing incorrect information to some law enforcement officers.
ERP The department of transportation's computerized paycheck system delivered loads of problems late last year and early this year. The $38 million system was developed by SAP.
Genesis The state paid $24.2 million to Accenture to update its unemployment insurance program. The total contract was $40.8 million, but officials terminated the program in December 2005. Key parts of the program - monitoring taxes paid by employers and benefits paid to workers - don't work.
SCORE Accenture was hired to provide the program for computerized voting records, but the contract was canceled in November 2005. The state had spent $1.5 million on the $10.5 million contract, but the contractor "missed every deadline." In late December, the company agreed to refund $2 million.
© 2001 St. Petersburg Times
December 2, 2001, Tallahassee Florida's unreliable statewide voter database sparked ugly complaints after the 2000 election. Hundreds of people said they were told they could not vote, and some fought to get their names off "scrub lists" of supposed felons.
Now, the task of building an accurate list in time for the 2002 election is raising new fears because Secretary of State Katherine Harris' office has steered the job to an outside company [Accenture]. Some experts worry a new database will mean new problems.
Democrats and civil rights groups said the elimination of some voters last year exposed a Republican plot to "disenfranchise" African-Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Harris has repeatedly said no voters were disenfranchised, but she joined Gov. Jeb Bush and legislators in making a reliable roll a priority.
Harris dropped an Atlanta firm that built the botched database, and lawmakers eager to avoid further embarrassment said Harris could not hire an outside firm to run the new system. The Legislature budgeted $2 million and told Harris to work with one agency, the Florida Association of Court Clerks, who already manage a statewide database of court records.
It didn't work. Talks between the state and the clerks broke down after the clerks insisted that the state pay for a $300,000 study to verify the accuracy of the data from statewide lists of felons, the deceased, and those whose civil rights have been restored.
"Unless that data is verified on its way in, we' re still going to have problems," says Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, a member of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee. "I think the Department of State jumped the gun a bit in giving this contract to a private contractor, and I'm questioning this whole process of not making sure that the very best information goes in there first."
"I'm distressed by it," says Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami, a Democratic candidate for governor who served on a task force that reviewed the state's election standards. "A lot of us had faith in the clerks because they already had a system with excess capacity. A private purveyor may not view this with the same objectivity."
State elections director Clay Roberts says the Legislature did not require the study and provided no money for it. Instead, the state will pay $1.6 million to Accenture, a giant consulting firm and partner with the state in various ventures, to design, but not operate, a "turnkey" system by next June that will be updated daily from election offices across the state.
The objective is to match a list of eligible voters against the criminal history files of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. When a name comes up on both a "hit" it will be up to an elections supervisor to find out whether the person is a felon.
But some common names will pop up with frequency, and the criminal history database includes aliases and incorrect or outdated addresses.
"Our data are not perfect," says Jeff Long, chief of the FDLE records bureau.
"The task is to take as much demographic information provided in the criminal history record and compare it to what's available in the central voter file on every voter, and come up with a way to say that a particular voter is the person we show is a convicted felon. There are going to be mismatches and false hits whenever you do that."
An FDLE in-house audit last year said 89 percent of audited records were accurate. The internal review recommended "a comprehensive audit" of the database "to improve data quality." But Long says it's "misleading" to judge FDLE's accuracy based on that review, because the audit covered not only convictions, but also arrests. He says only convictions will be used in the state's new voter database.
Hillsborough County Elections Supervisor Pam Iorio says that when talks broke down with the clerks, the state blew a chance to hold elected officials accountable for the data's accuracy. "When you' re responsible for an agency, you' re ultimately responsible for the end product," Iorio says.
State election experts say the new database will be better because the state will oversee it more closely, Accenture won't decide on its own what goes into the database, and election supervisors are serving as an advisory board.
"We want this to work. It's a very challenging assignment," says Paul Craft, Harris' election systems chief, one of five staffers who chose Accenture. "The biggest thing that is different about this project is we actually have control over it."
Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, beat out three rivals in part because of an alliance with election.com, a firm that helped create the statewide voter registration database in Arkansas. [EJF note: Accenture bought out election.com.]
Accenture is represented by the lobbying firm of Poole, McKinley and Blosser, a firm with Republican ties. But the company said the database contract involved no lobbying. Craft said he had no contact from any company lobbyists.
Meg McLaughlin, Accenture's project partner, emphasized that the new Florida database will not remove any names from the rolls. Instead, she said, software will be programmed to "look at records and identify potential problems" that will be referred to the 67 county election supervisors for action.
"I'm not confident yet," says Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor David Leahy, who heads a group of five supervisors overseeing the venture. "Not until we finalize the database and what's going to go on it."
Times researchers Caryn Baird and Stephanie Scruggs contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Spook
August 5, 2004 Florida elections officials decided to use race to match felons on one list with voters on another list, even though the felons list didn't offer Hispanic as a choice. The move guaranteed that Hispanics wouldn't make the list. This week, The Miami Herald reported that a state memo that Ms. Hood had ordered said, "It becomes apparent...that Accenture's Fayetteville office does not understand the relationship between the matching tables." Even though some state workers recognized the problems, Ms. Hood moved blithely forward, distributed the flawed list to county election officials in May and retracted it only after public scrutiny in July. The state paid Accenture $1.8 million to compile the list. Katherine Harris told legislators that an audit of the list, costing $300,000, would be a waste of money. It turns out she was right. The newspapers did it for free.
© 2004 by Andrea Logue, Government Technology
October 4, 2004 The Florida State Technology Office (STO) plans to cancel two multimillion-dollar contracts because investigators have determined that two companies, Bearing Point and Accenture, were given unfair advantages.
The two companies were part of the state's outsourcing initiative, MyFlorida Alliance. Through MyFlorida Alliance, Bearing Point was responsible for maintaining and improving services delivered through the STO's data center, desktop management, and e-government services, and Accenture was responsible for creating, maintaining, and improving applications management including the state's portal as well as managing the delivery of e-government services.
Over the next month, the STO will take the following steps:
Ninety-day termination notices will be delivered October 1.
Business case and feasibility studies will be completed by October 30
Future complete procurement will be issued only after a business case, approved through the CEG process, determines merit.
Bidders will be required to hire outsourced employees at current or higher salary.
November 29, 2004 The state of Kansas is planning to consolidate its 105 disparate county voter registration databases into a single, statewide system.
Aradyme Corp. recently announced it has signed an agreement with Accenture to provide the data extraction, transformation and loading solution needed to consolidate Kansas' county voter registration databases. This solution is provided as part of Accenture's Election Services Management product.
According to the Help America Vote Act of 2002, each state is required to establish and maintain a single, central, uniform, official and interactive computerized statewide voter registration database defined, maintained, and administered at the state level that contains the name and registration information of every legally registered voter in the state. The Act also requires the appropriate state or local election official to update the data in this repository on a regular basis. In an effort to support these endeavors, the federal government will award more than three billion dollars to the 50 states through 2006. The deadline for states to implement a HAVA-compliant computerized statewide VR database is January 1, 2006.
Accenture 2002 News Archive
July 26, 2002, Harrisburg Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has been awarded a five-year, multi-million-dollar contract by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of State to build and deploy a centralized voter registration and election management system using election.com's Election Systems Manager software. [EJF note: Accenture bought out election.com.]
The system, designed to help election officials in Pennsylvania's 67 counties maintain accurate and reliable voter registration records, will be known as the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors system, or SURE.
By enabling counties to identify and eliminate duplicate registrations, SURE will serve as a uniform statewide platform for consolidating the voter registration data currently maintained separately by each of the state's counties. In addition, SURE will interface with Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation and Department of Health to electronically transfer motor voter applications and death records directly to county election offices.
"Development of the SURE system is a significant step toward making Pennsylvania a national leader in election-records reform," said Secretary of the Commonwealth Michael Weaver. "With this system, county election officials will have access to a much-needed tool that can help them maintain reliable lists of legally registered voters, which is a priority for Pennsylvania for future elections."
The Pennsylvania General Assembly has allocated $8.5 million to cover initial system development costs for SURE, with another $2 million per year for ongoing development and maintenance to be allocated on an annual basis. SURE is scheduled for statewide roll-out during the second half of 2003.
The election.com Election Systems Manager (ESM) solution provides an integrated voter registration and election management system that streamlines the election administration processfrom voter registration and database management to redistricting and early and absentee voting. By automating and standardizing election office operations, ESM helps maximize productivity, increase efficiency and standardize election workflow. election.com's ESM software is already being used statewide in Minnesota and Arkansas.
"Every national study on election reform published in the wake of the 2000 presidential election recognizes that the voter registration database is an important aspect of election integrity," said Mark Strama, Senior Vice President, election.com. "election.com is proud to work in Pennsylvania, in cooperation with Accenture, to help enhance the integrity of the state's election system with the installation of Election Systems Manager."
Accenture and election.com forged a long-term alliance in 2001 to deliver comprehensive voter registration and election management solutions to meet the varying needs of state governments. The alliance combines Accenture's technical resources and execution capabilities with election.com's voter registration and election management software and specialized election expertise.
March 21, 2005, Harrisburg, 1:00 PM Room 140, Main Capitol The House State Government Committee held a public hearing to receive updates from the counties on the implementation of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE). The Committee heard testimony from the County Commissioners Association of PA (CCAP) and several County Directors of Elections. The common theme throughout all the testimony was that the SURE system is seriously flawed and either needs substantial upgrades or should be scrapped. [Emphasis added.]
Members in attendance included Chairman Paul Clymer (R-Bucks), Democratic Chair Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia), Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), Dave Millard (R-Columbia), Scott Boyd (R-Lancaster), Florindo Fabrizio (D-Erie), Thomas Blackwell (D-Philadelphia), Lawrence Curry (D-Montgomery), Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Dave Hickernell (R-Lancaster), Robert Freeman (D-Northampton), Dave Reed (R-Indiana), Sean Ramaley (D-Allegheny), Glen Grell (R-Cumberland), and Will Gabig (R-Cumberland).
Doug Hill , Director of CCAP, stated that he testified in 2001 that the problem in the 2000 election for PA "was not balloting systems, but the real horror story was our problem with registration systems" (Click to view a copy of that testimony). He testified at that time that then-Governor Ridge's proposal for an integrated voter registration system would do much to solve our motor voter registration problems, and supported the concept and its underlying appropriation. However, Hill added, the resultant system, SURE, is "seriously if not fatally flawed."
Rep. Freeman asked if the counties had concerns with the vendor from the beginning. Hill replied that Accenture entered into partnership with (and subsequently bought) election.com to develop the software. He noted that no PA vendors bid on the contract. Hill added that there were initial concerns with the contract because it utilizes a thin-client architecture. Rep. Freeman then asked about rumors that the RFP (request for proposals) was structured for Accenture to win the bid. Hill replied that he has heard such accusations, but has no first hand knowledge.
The Committee then heard testimony from the following county election officials:
Deena Dean, Director of the Bucks County Board of Elections/Voter Registration
Kurt Bellman, Berks County Director of Elections
Betty Hillwig, Lehigh County Chief Clerk and Director of Elections
Joanne Reichart, Columbia County Elections Coordinator/Voter Registration
Joseph Passarella, Chairman of the Association of Eastern PA County Election Personnel (AEPCEP) and Montgomery County Director of Voter Services
Kenneth Leffler, Carbon County Director of Elections
Bob Lee, Philadelphia County Voter Registration Administrator
John V. Scott, York County Director of Election sand Voter Registration
George Coxe, Tioga County Director of Elections/Voter Registration
Each official testified in support of a centralized registration system, but all agreed that SURE is seriously flawed. They each described the difficulties they have experienced with the SURE system in their county. Common problems included:
Slow response by the system,
Difficulty printing poll books,
Equipment shortage, and the
Increased amount of overtime put in due to the amount of time it takes to input information into SURE.
Dean provided a timeline of discussions and correspondence she has had with the Department of State and Accenture regarding the flaws in SURE, but, she concluded, of eleven concerns aired in December 2003, six remain unresolved and only three of 30 recommendations have been implemented. She urged the Committee to work to identify a permanent solution to the problems with SURE.
Bellman explained that Berks County was using NTS software when SURE was implemented. He noted that NTS was simple to use and learn, and NTS was very willing to help assimilate the two systems. He stated that:
"Never once in the interim between April 30, 2001 and our 'go live' date on SURE, February 19, 2004, was Berks County's registration software system ever for a single day out of compliance with all relevant state and federal election laws. Since February 19, 2003, we have never had a day when our software system has been in compliance with all relevant state and federal laws."
He especially noted problems his office had with processing absentee ballots under SURE. Bellman concluded that SURE "shortcomings and deficiencies" need to be corrected at state or federal expense as soon as possible. He noted that replacement is not necessarily the only viable option, despite the fact that Berks County supports the AEPCEP resolution requesting that the system be scrapped. (Please see Passarella's testimony for a copy of the resolution)
Reichart testified that the implementation of SURE in Columbia County has been largely positive, primarily because the County is small and they are still able to use their old registration system. She stated that SURE is a "blessing and a curse," noting that the system does get bogged down but they are able to retrieve more data quicker. She added that petition system included in SURE is "horrible" and not usable. Reichart stated that she would like to see SURE fixed, not scrapped.
Hillwig stressed that costs in Lehigh County have increased since the implementation of SURE because the slow system has forced the County to hire more workers and pay more overtime in addition to increased paper consumption.
Passarella's testimony emphasized that alternative systems were available, noting that Montgomery County is still using NTS without problems, but the state selected Accenture as the vendor. He testified in opposition to SURE as Chair of AEPCEP, noting that the Association passed a resolution asking the State to implement a system allowing the counties to have a choice as to whether to use the state system or use their existing system and upload daily into a central database. He noted that his research revealed that other states and counties using Accenture have had problems with the system, but the Department selected Accenture. Passarella stated that the SURE Advisory Board, which is for advice only, has listed over 200 issues with SURE, but were told to choose the top 20, indicating that only those 20 would be addressed. He stated that "the time is now to consider this software to be a lemon and put out a new RFP and move ahead with a system that works and meets Pennsylvania's needs."
Leffler expounded on the many positive impacts that SURE has had on Carbon County, including decreased PennDOT processing time, indisputable records of data updates, identification of name changes, and more efficient management of the absentee ballot process. Despite the benefits that Carbon County enjoys, Leffler explained that he supports the AEPCEP resolution to scrap SURE, noting that the processing speed of SURE is often compromised, the system is not user-friendly, equipment needs to be upgraded or updated, and instructions need to be more concise. He concluded by stating that Carbon County would not be able to return to its previous registration system and expressed his hope that the legitimate concerns of the counties be addressed to enable the implementation of SURE to continue.
Lee stated that the procurement processing surrounding SURE has been "a perfect example of how not to design, procure, and install a statewide integrated voter registration system." He cited several flaws in the procurement process, especially that the county input sought was sought in the midst of the election season. One survey respondent stated that "my brain is so focused on that election, I am unable to think of anything else." Additionally, he noted that the system was exempt form the normal procurement and regulatory process. Lee stated that "aside from the performance and reliability issues experienced by counties using SURE, Philadelphia has additional specific issues and concerns that require revisions...before the system can be used as the county's official voter registration files" adding that he has little confidence that SURE can be revised to meet Philadelphia's needs before 2006. Lee concluded that it is time to begin "migrating to a new system software" that is less cumbersome and more efficient and responsive.
Coxe also detailed the many frustrations he has experienced while using SURE. He concluded by stating that "the State needs to start over and dump Accenture, and have the County/Voter Personal help compile data and make the system compliant with the Election Code law."
Chairman Clymer asked Bellman if Berks County could quickly implement its previous system if such a need arose. Bellman commented that is not likely legal, adding that it would be difficult to extract Berks' information from SURE, and counties using SURE would then have access to outdated data from Berks. Bellman remarked that some states have implemented a hybrid system where the counties maintain data locally and then export it to the central database.
Chairman Clymer asked several panelists if the goals to eliminate duplicate registrations and clean up the election rolls have been achieved. Bellman and Leffler affirmed this. Leffler noted that the system is not perfect in removing duplicates because it only matches names and birthdays. He stated that at least the last four digits of an elector's Social Security Number should also be included in the record.
Chairman Clymer asked Passarella about Montgomery County's situation as the election approached. Passarella stated that all the applications in the County were processed on time. He remarked that the current system used by the County has no lag time, noting that it also only contains county data, not statewide data. Chairman Clymer then asked if Montgomery County officials have been working with Accenture in the implementation process. Passarella replied that they "have not heard one word about the implementation," despite the many concerns they have voiced.
The Chairman then asked about the scenario in Philadelphia County if they are forced to implement SURE. Lee replied that the system would probably cost $600,000 more per year in labor costs. He indicated that it would have been catastrophic for the County if SURE had been implemented for the election last November. He suggested that SURE could not handle the volume that Philadelphia County would create.
Democratic Chair Josephs asked Dean about functions that Bucks County is not able to perform since the implementation of SURE. Dean replied that batch imaging is no longer possible, noting that the process is an important function in large counties. She added that they have also lost reporting capabilities, cannot print reports and cannot choose whether to scan voted or not-voted records.
Democratic Chair Josephs asked several panelists to provide estimates on total monetary losses since was implemented in their county, to which they all agreed.
Democratic Chair Josephs also asked for recommendations of legislative remedies. Bellman indicated support for a hybrid system. He noted that more money to address the problem or a new vendor are also possible solutions. Lee remarked that the necessary infrastructure is in place and suggested that a new vendor be sought. Rep. Josephs commented that she supports saving taxpayer money and is interested in examining the options available.
Democratic Chair Josephs asked Hillwig if she is aware of any specific action taken that would slow the system. Hillwig replied that while her office was running a report, she was called by the help desk and asked to stop the report because it was slowing the whole system.
Democratic Chair Josephs asked Passarella about the system. He commented that he has heard of several instances when counties have been asked to stop running reports because it was slowing the system. Democratic Chair Josephs then stated that "no statement that Accenture makes has validity with me," noting that during the procurement process she distinctly remembers Accenture's unwillingness to be flexible.
Rep. Freeman asked Dean if it is normal to have trouble contacting Accenture for assistance. Dean clarified that the counties are supposed to contact the SURE help desk, but she reached a point of frustration and began contacting Accenture directly. She remarked that it is important that help be available every day of the week, especially as election day approaches. Dean also noted that she has maintained records of problems and requests for assistance.
Rep. Freeman also asked several of the officials if they were aware of the rumors that the RFP was constructed for one company. Bellman commented that he is aware of the rumors, but, like Hill, cannot substantiate them. Passarella agreed with this.
Rep. Millard thanked the panelists for coming, noting that he believes the system can be fixed and does not need to be scrapped.
Rep. Curry asked about the consequences of voters being lost in the system. Passarella replied that some are found and others are offered provisional ballots, but some voters get turned away.
Rep. Hutchinson asked how duplicates are checked in those counties not yet "live" on SURE. Leffler replied that those counties send written correspondence of newly registered voters to the elector's previous county of residence.
Rep. Fabrizio commented that the system does not fit PA, stating that it would be foolhardy to bring the remaining counties into the system when there are still problems that need to be addressed. He expressed support for the concept, but remarked that there is no integrity or accuracy in this system and it is time to "cut and run" and do what is right for PA.
Susan Boyle, Executive Director of the Committee, asked about overtime costs, noting that the Department of State has indicated that it would reimburse overtime costs. Hillwig stated that the Department did reimburse a portion of overtime costs, but not all.
Boyle also asked if there is any way Philadelphia can be HAVA-compliant (in reference to the Federal Help America Vote Act) without implementing SURE. Lee replied that Philadelphia County is connected, but has not "gone live" on the system. He stated that it is more important to ensure the integrity of the system.
Lastly, Boyle asked Coxe if he was able to verify his data when he exported it to SURE. Coxe replied that he manually validated it himself. He stated that the export went quite well.
The Department of State and Butler County submitted written testimony to the Committee.
© 2006 TSEU/CWA
March 14, 2006, Austin The Texas State Employees Union today learned that another state has canceled a contract with Accenture, the company chosen by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to develop and operate HHSC's new Integrated Eligibility system, which uses privately operated call centers instead of community-based offices as the entry point for people seeking food stamps, Medicaid, and other health and human services.
"This latest cancellation news adds to our concerns about HHSC's plan to replace community-based offices with call centers operated by Accenture," said Mike Gross, vice-president of TSEU.
"Accenture and its subcontractors are supposed to develop and implement the technology to make these call centers work, but if it can't make a voter registration database in a small state like Wyoming work, how can you expect it to deliver a much more complicated system, such as the one it will take to make the Texas call centers work."
Wyoming canceled its contract with Accenture for a centralized voter registration system after the company failed to implement the system by the January 1, 2006 deadline.
In 2005, Accenture was working on centralized voter registration database projects in four states: Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Wisconsin. All but Wisconsin have canceled their contracts, and the project in Wisconsin is behind schedule.
Other government agencies have canceled Accenture contracts recently:
The U.S. Marine Corps in February canceled a contract with Accenture to design and implement its new global supply chain and maintenance system.
Colorado in December canceled a contract with Accenture to update its unemployment insurance computer system.
Florida two years ago canceled two high-profile technology contracts worth $132.4 million. According to the state's chief information officer, the one for computer help-desk services for state agencies was canceled because "the services that were being offered under the (contract) weren't addressing the needs of the various agencies the way they should have been" (Tallahassee Democrat, August 20, 2004).
The Integrated Eligibility system operated by Accenture is currently being piloted in Austin. Newspapers across the state last week reported significant declines in food stamp, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program cases since the pilot began.
"The Accenture pilot isn't working," Gross said.
"It's supposed to end next month. If it does and the glitches aren't resolved even more people will have trouble getting services. That's why we' re calling on HHSC to extend the pilot through December 2006 and immediately rescind all layoffs of workers in community-based eligibility offices scheduled to go into effect in May."
Contract date November 12, 2004
The Wisconsin State Elections Board (SEB) has entered into a contract with Accenture LLP, a limited liability partnership organized in Illinois and qualified to do business in Wisconsin, to design, develop, implement and maintain, in concert with the Department of Administration's Division of Enterprise Technology (DET) and the SEB, a statewide voter registration system as required by the federal government under the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The SVRS will be based on Accenture LLP's proprietary election management software being used for similar voter registration systems in Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas.
The Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) will consist of Accenture LLP proprietary software customized for use in Wisconsin's unique election environment, state owned 3 rd party software, and state owned hardware to create and maintain an active, online, centralized database of Wisconsin voters that will be accessible for municipal and county clerks to maintain via the Internet. The software will comprise business functions for voter registration records, absentee ballot management, voter jurisdiction management, poll worker and poll location information and elections administration functions.
Some of the contract highlights are as follows:
Contract price is a fixed fee of $9,751,510, which includes SVRS implementation, warranty services, and Accenture LLP software license;
Term of the contract is through June, 2010, with SVRS implementation to be completed by March 30, 2006, and maintenance and support to continue through 2010;
Warranty Period extends through December 31, 2006;
Implementation Services include project management, system design, installation and configuration on DET host, proprietary software customization for Wisconsin, data conversion, training, and security designed for hosting on DET network;
State retains 20% of the contract price, to be paid out incrementally over the entire warranty period, until all of the HAVA requirements have been delivered and the application is deployed to all the State's "Authorized Users" (municipalities and counties).
Accenture LLP's liability is up to 150% of the contract price for any damages or claims for any contract breach;
Accenture LLP must perform all work within the territorial borders of the United States (mostly in Madison, Wisconsin and Fayetteville, Arkansas);
Accenture LLP must provide new release/upgrade to conform with changes in HAVA throughout the term of the contract;
State has the right to approve/disapprove all Accenture LLP's key personnel assigned to the SVRS project;
State may claim liquidated damages should Accenture LLP fail to do the following:
Meet Key Milestone: $3,000/day up to a maximum of $90,000;
Replace Key Personnel diverted from project: $1,000/day until replacement, up to a maximum of $20,000;
Deposit source code in escrow account at US Bank in Madison, Wisconsin: $1,000/day up to a maximum of $60,000;
Meet service level (e.g. help desk) requirements: various amounts based on response times and election period.
Meet Application Performance requirements: various amounts based on the election period.
© 2005 Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
April 19, 2005 The State of Wisconsin entered into a contract on November 12, 2004 with the global outsourcing firm Accenture to develop a statewide voter registration list. Under the contract, Accenture is to be paid $13.9 million for computer software development and maintenance.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's director and other citizens seeking cancellation of the contract on the grounds that state Elections Board director Kevin Kennedy lacked legal authority to sign the Accenture contract. The Elections Board did not vote to approve the contract before it was signed, and did not vote to authorize a Request for Proposals soliciting bids from private vendors.
Elections Board staff also withheld information from the public about the status of the contract when briefing board members. Accenture was chosen in mid-October and a letter of intent was issued on October 15, 2004 awarding the contract to the company. But a report presented to the board on October 20 said only that the procurement process was proceeding and that a final vendor had not yet been selected.
A circuit court judge ruled on June 2, 2005 that the Elections Board's director did not have the authority to enter into the agreement with Accenture, but nevertheless upheld the contract on the grounds that the board retroactively ratified the contract on January 27, 2005 more than a month after the contract was legally challenged.
The Democracy Campaign also asked Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager to investigate whether Wisconsin's open government laws were violated in the awarding of the contract. A Justice Department investigation was launched and resulted in Accenture providing access to its proprietary software, ensuring that confidential voter information not be copied or sold, and surrendering control of the source code it will write to program computers used to registered voters. Under the original contract, this computer code was Accenture's private property and was not open to inspection by state officials.
Development of a statewide voter list is one of many changes required by the federal Help America Vote Act. Work on the voter list must be completed by January 1, 2006.
In addition to the $13.9 million the state has agreed to pay Accenture, millions more are being spent on other aspects of the voter registration project including at least $4.1 million to another private firm, Deloitte Consulting, for project management and $10.2 million for state Elections Board staff oversight, hardware and data entry for a total cost of at least $28.2 million. In contrast, Minnesota relied on state employees to do its statewide voter list and completed the work at a cost of $5.3 million.
The outsourcing of voter registration in Wisconsin is the offspring of a political promise Governor Jim Doyle made to eliminate 10,000 state jobs, thereby reducing the size of the state workforce to 1986 levels. Fulfilling that campaign promise has prompted the state to outsource government services to private companies, even when the cost of outsourcing is considerably greater for taxpayers.
One study showed that the cost of doing government work with outside contractors is 18 percent more expensive than having state employees do the work. In one instance, the state paid a private firm nearly $80 an hour to maintain a road sign inventory previously kept by a state employee making $11 an hour. The state gave the same company a $685,000 no-bid contract to build and maintain a web site about a Milwaukee-area highway construction project while several web experts said they could have created the site for half the cost or less but were never given the chance to bid for the work.
The selection of Accenture to develop Wisconsin's voter registration list is particularly controversial. The company had a hand in the notorious purge of suspected felons from Florida voter lists before the 2004 elections. (More on Accenture's role in the Florida felon purge.)
Accenture was a division of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen known as Andersen Consulting before the Enron accounting scandal forced a name change. Accenture's parent company is headquartered in Bermuda to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Wisconsin officials have bristled at the charge that Accenture is headquartered offshore for tax avoidance purposes, maintaining that it is an Illinois-based firm. This claim is undercut, ironically, by Accenture itself. A company representative defended its record of avoiding U.S. taxes by telling a Texas newspaper "Accenture is not and never has been a U.S.-based or U.S.-operated organization."
The company also has come under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the federal law banning bribery of foreign officials.
Accenture is no stranger to influence peddling in the U.S., either. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, company executives and Accenture's political committees made donations of $726,105 to federal campaigns in the 2004 election cycle. Of that, $534,067 went to Republicans and $188,788 went to Democrats.
© 2005 Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
June 9, 2005 Wisconsin was second only to Minnesota in voter turnout last year 77 percent of eligible voters here went to the polls in the 2004 general election, compared to the national average of 64 percent. And 63 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots, an impressive 13 percentage point increase from 2000.
You'd think our state's political leaders would see this as a good thing.
But no sooner were the votes counted and state lawmakers were pushing legislation making it harder to vote. Before rumors of voter fraud could be substantiated, they were peddling a Patriot Act-style solution that, it turns out, doesn't solve the actual voting problems that since have been documented.
For fear of being left off the if-it-ain't-broke-break-it bandwagon, the state Elections Board sprung into action a matter of days after the election. Well, actually, an unelected official serving at the pleasure of this unelected board single-handedly committed the taxpayers of Wisconsin to pay the notorious global outsourcing firm Accenture close to $14 million to create a statewide voter registration list.
This is a company that used to be known as Andersen Consulting, part of Arthur Andersen of Enron fame. This is a company whose parent is based in Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes. This is a company that had a hand in the infamous purge of African Americans from Florida's voter list before the 2004 election. This is a company that is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for bribing foreign officials. One of this company's top officials is chairman of a South African company that played a major role in propping up the former apartheid government.
This is the outfit we've entrusted with the most important list that will ever be developed in a democratic society our voter registration list.
Here's where things go from bad to worse. The taxpayers are on the hook to pay Accenture $13.9 million under a contract that neither the state nor Accenture are committed to honoring. Accenture already is seeking to renegotiate the contract to obtain more favorable terms. The company now says it will not be able to deliver nine items required under the contract. Accenture also wants to push back some deadlines it can't meet. And the company now says the payments it is due to receive under the contract for technical support and maintenance of the voter registration system are inadequate and need to be increased.
Elections Board director Kevin Kennedy the same Kevin Kennedy who unilaterally signed the contract in the first place says he agrees the contract needs to be rewritten and is open to giving Accenture more money.
All of this comes as no surprise, in light of Accenture's well-established track record of cost overruns and missed deadlines on other projects, and considering the Elections Board's record of project mismanagement.
Remember, a "Citizens Right to Know" law was enacted in 1998 requiring the Elections Board to create a system of electronic filing of campaign finance reports by July 1999. The board squandered several hundred thousand dollars it initially received without successfully implementing an electronic disclosure system. More than two years after the implementation deadline, the Elections Board asked the Joint Finance Committee for another $3.5 million to complete the new system. The committee said no.
Tired of waiting, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and another citizen group hired a law firm to pursue a court order. Under threat of a lawsuit, the Elections Board adopted an emergency rule we drafted implementing electronic filing at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Four years after its enactment, the Citizens Right to Know law finally took effect.
Now the Elections Board's director is open to sweetening a voter-list contract that already was a horribly raw deal for taxpayers. In addition to the $13.9 million the state has agreed to pay Accenture, millions more are being spent on other aspects of the voter registration project including $2.7 million to another private firm, Deloitte Consulting, for project management and $10.2 million for state Elections Board staff oversight, hardware and data entry for a total cost of $26.8 million. In contrast, Minnesota relied on state employees to do its statewide voter list and completed the work at a cost of $5.3 million.
Now Accenture wants even more for doing less than it promised to do. And the Elections Board seems poised to say OK. The mind reels.
Wait, now the story goes from worse to weird. The state asked a circuit court judge to give the contract his stamp of approval even as it is being torn up. The judge ruled Kennedy did not have the authority to enter into the contract unilaterally, but gave the state a mulligan and upheld the contract on the grounds that the Elections Board made the contract valid by retroactively ratifying it in late January more than a month after our citizen lawsuit was filed challenging the contract.
We've passed through the looking glass.
Even though the judge took us to Wonderland, my hunch is we'll eventually end up in Kansas. The state of Kansas entered into a contract with Accenture to develop its voter registration system last October and quickly lost confidence in the company's ability to complete the work. State officials there cancelled the contract in February 2005.
Wisconsin needs to pull a Kansas and quick, before more taxpayer money is wasted and before public confidence in our voter registration system is further undermined. The number to call is 608-266-8005. The email address is email@example.com. On the receiving end will be the state Elections Board, our very own Wisconsin-based subsidiary of Accenture LLP.
© 2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 5, 2005, Madison Testing for Wisconsin's statewide voter database is behind schedule, prompting critics to warn that the state may miss a January 1, 2006, deadline and lose federal aid.Ad
Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the state Elections Board, said he had hoped to have system testing done by mid-August, but that it could take another week or two.
Federal law requires the state to get the list running by January 1, 2006.
"I lose a lot more sleep every day" as the deadline approaches, he said.
Asked if the overall project is on schedule, he responded: "That's hard to say. We' re in the middle of testing. Our goal is to hit that January 1 deadline."
The cost for the work is also going up. In July, the board agreed to pay $1.5 million more to Deloitte Consulting to oversee the project, pushing the state's costs to about $27.5 million.
Of that, $13.9 million will go to Accenture to build the database and $4.2 million will go to Deloitte to manage the Accenture contract and overall project. The rest of the money is for state costs, such as salaries.
The additional $1.5 million was needed to hire nine project coordinators, Kennedy said.
Critics have long predicted the job would go over its budget and would not finish on time. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) said testing delays show the list may not be done by January 1, 2006.
The federal government is paying for the bulk of the project, but could pull some or all of its funds if the state misses the deadline. Because the contractors are aware of that, they will have an incentive to hike prices as the year goes on, Pocan said.
Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, agreed.
"The initial contract when it is signed is just the beginning," he said. "They make all their money when they make all the changes they insist on...As January 1, 2006, approaches and Accenture says, 'You know, we just can't do it,' what's the state going to do? Start over?"
Jim McAvoy, a spokesman for Accenture, disputed that, saying contract terms were clear.
"It's not as if you can stop before a deadline and say give me more money or I won't complete the project," he said.
The price would rise only if the state determined it needed additional work, he said. Accenture is on track to complete its portion of the work on time, McAvoy said.
McCabe's non-profit group advocates for campaign finance reform and clean government. McCabe, Pocan and others unsuccessfully sued the Elections Board, on the grounds Kennedy did not have the authority to sign the contract with Accenture.
Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust ruled in June the contract was valid because the Elections Board ratified it in January, just weeks after the suit was brought.
Pocan and McCabe also criticized the state for hiring Deloitte to oversee the Accenture contract, saying the state itself should manage it. But Kennedy said he needed assistance because his office has never before been responsible for such a large computer project.
"My office doesn't have people who are trained project managers," he said.
Kennedy also renegotiated the Accenture contract this summer, but that did not change the price. Under the new deal, the state will get more training resources for election officials around the state.
Accenture also has agreed to remove voters from the list after comparing it with Social Security's death register.
But the system will no longer allow candidates to register their campaigns online, and the database will not identify voters who are eligible for jury duty.
Kennedy said those elements were low priorities, and that the state came out ahead in the latest round of bargaining.
"We actually get more value for what we are giving up," Kennedy said.
September 20, 2005 (AP) Wisconsin's statewide voter registration system will not be running by a January 1, 2006, federal deadline due to errors in software developed by private contractor Accenture LLP, the elections board said.
"Testing has not been finished because of system errors," Kevin Kennedy, Elections Board executive director, said in a news release Monday. "If we can't test it, we can't pilot it, and if we can't pilot it, we can't send it out to the rest of the state to use."
Kennedy said Accenture plans to deliver a newer, corrected version of the software on Friday and report its results to the state Elections Board on Sept. 28.
Wisconsin has a $13.9 million contract with Accenture to create its statewide voter registration system. The state is also paying Deloitte Consulting $4.1 million to manage the project. [EJF note; Wisconsin pays consulting firm $4.1 million to manage Accenture but it is the county clerks who find the errors.]
Dane County clerks who had tested the software found errors that prevented them from completing basic tasks such as setting up a poll book, a document that has the names of registered voters on it, said Elections Board spokesman Kyle Richmond.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said warning signs about Accenture were there from the start.
Kansas dropped its system contract with Accenture and the company was already running behind on contracts it had with other Wisconsin state agencies, he said.
"It's easy to say, 'We told you so,' but the real issue is what can we do to get something that works and quit dumping taxpayer dollars down the drain with a system that doesn't work?" Pocan said.
Wisconsin, like all other states, are under a federal mandate to develop a statewide voter registration system by the first of the year.
Kennedy said he hasn't discussed with federal officials whether missing the deadline would jeopardize the $50.4 million the state has already received under the act.
"We don't know and we never knew," Kennedy said. "We knew the federal deadline was highly impractical for anyone who had to start from scratch. Of all the 50 states we probably have the most complex implementation."
Kennedy would not say whether Accenture would be subject to fines due to the delay.
"There are different penalties for different things. We are not letting it slide," he said.
© 2006 Channel 3000
March 13, 2006, Madison A state lawmaker said that Wisconsin should pull the plug on its controversial contract to develop a statewide, federally-mandated voter registration system.
The proposal comes only days after yet another state announced it was dropping its contract to build a similar system. Last week, Wyoming became the third of four states to pull out of its contract with Accenture, WISC-TV reported.
Wisconsin is now the only state still with Accenture in a controversial $14 million contract that aims to set up a system that would reduce voter fraud.
The project has been plagued with delays. In January, Wisconsin missed a federal deadline to have its system ready. Currently, a State Elections Board spokesman said that deployment of the project is on hold until "performance" and other problems are corrected, WISC-TV reported.
Kevin Kennedy, the director of the State Elections Board, said that he wants some assurances from Accenture.
"We would like a firm, written commitment that you are committed to completing the development and implementation of the voter system in Wisconsin...and will provide the level of long-term support specified," Kennedy wrote in a letter to Accenture officials.
However, critics of Accenture said that they believe it's too late for promises.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said that he wants the state to just dump the contract, too.
"I think we should learn from the other three people who contracted with Accenture and pull the plug and get this project done and get it done right," Pocan said.
Pocan said that the contract was a bad one to begin with and insists that Minnesota or others could set up a workable system for less money.
A spokesman for Accenture said that they are committed to finishing the project and meeting the requirements of the contract, WISC-TV reported.
A spokesman for the State Elections Board said that it believes Accenture will work out, but admitted that expansion of the system is also on hold because of performance problems.
© 2006 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 24, 2006, Madison The troubled statewide voter database likely won't be finished until after the November election for governor, making Wisconsin miss a federal deadline by almost a year and driving up costs.
The expected delay means the state must keep about 50 people on the payroll for longer than expected, which will wipe out a $2.5 million fund that was meant to cover future maintenance costs for the voter list, said Kevin Kennedy, the executive director of the state Elections Board.
"That's pretty likely (that) we wouldn't have everybody up by September," Kennedy said Wednesday, adding that the state would be unable to add others to the system between the September and November elections because municipal clerks will be so busy during that period.
But on Thursday, Kyle Richmond, a spokesman for the board, tried to back away from Kennedy's comments. "We' re not willing to say flat out we won't make it by September," he said. "We just don't know."
The disclosure of additional delays comes two weeks after Wyoming dumped consultant Accenture for its voter database, leaving Wisconsin as the only state to retain the company. Kansas and Colorado canceled their contracts with Accenture last year.
Kennedy said the board is unlikely to fire Accenture because doing so would put Wisconsin even farther behind schedule. [EJF note: It would appear that Kevin Kennedy is the one who needs to be fired first.]
"A delayed rollout that gets everybody up and running is probably better than stopping and starting with something else, because if we do, we know we probably won't have it up for the 2008 election," he said.
Under a 2002 federal law, all states were to have a state-run database of voters by January 1, 2006. Many other states are behind schedule.
Once running properly, the statewide list will make it easier to track voters, helping to ensure that no one votes more than once and that felons under state supervision do not cast ballots.
Peter Soh, a spokesman for Accenture, said the company expects the Wisconsin list to be ready by the fall.
"We' re working to have the full deployment for the November elections, but we are reviewing other options with the (board) in case the timetable becomes unachievable," he said.
State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), a longtime critic of the Elections Board and Accenture, said Thursday that he is working with other legislators to take responsibility for the database away from Kennedy. Among those legislators is Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the Legislative Audit Bureau are reviewing the matter for them and are expected to present them with options in about two weeks, Pocan said.
"There is little legislative confidence in where Kevin Kennedy is taking this...I think to continue on this course borders on incompetency," Pocan said.
Pocan has long urged that the state cancel the contract. He was part of a group that unsuccessfully sued the Elections Board last year, arguing that it had improperly entered into the contract with Accenture.
The $27.5 million project is funded largely with federal aid, and federal officials could conceivably take back some or all of the money because the state missed the deadline. But Kennedy said that was unlikely because the U.S. Department of Justice appears satisfied that Wisconsin is making progress.
Municipalities in 20 counties used the database for the first time in the February primary. Racine County likely will join them for the April election, Kennedy said.
Municipal and county clerks have been frustrated by bugs in the system, particularly because the program often moves slowly.
"I am not exaggerating when I say that sometimes you can click on a drop-down menu, then go get a cup of coffee, and you will be lucky if it is there upon your return," Barron County Clerk DeeAnn Cook wrote in a recent e-mail to Pocan.
But Cook added in her e-mail that the counties that come online later would probably have an easier time because the state is learning from earlier mistakes.
This spring and summer, the Elections Board will add Milwaukee County to the system. The City of Milwaukee has had numerous election problems, most notably during the 2004 presidential election.
The Elections Board will also focus on putting communities onto the system that have never before had a voter registration system. Until this year, the smallest municipalities in Wisconsin were not required to register voters.
After those communities and Milwaukee County are taken care of, the Elections Board will bring the remaining municipalities onto the system, Kennedy said. But some of those municipalities probably won't be added until after the November election, he said.
Last fall, Kennedy announced that the state would miss the January 1, 2006, deadline, but said he expected to have the system ready by the April election. He later said that it wouldn't be ready until sometime after that.
On Wednesday, he acknowledged it likely wouldn't be ready for all municipalities for the November election.
About 50 people working on the project for the state had been expected to go off the payroll by the end of June, but now will be retained through at least the end of the year, Kennedy said.
Accenture is being paid $13.9 million for its work. None of the additional funds will go to the company.
© 2007 by Todd Richmond, The Associated Press
December 26, 2007 (AP) State election officials in Madison finally pulled the plug on a software vendor they say hasn't delivered a fully functional statewide voter registration system despite pocketing millions of state dollars.
The state Elections Board and Accenture agreed to nix their contract in a settlement announced Wednesday. The deal calls for Accenture to turn over its software's source code to the board, giving that panel complete control of the system. The vendor also agreed to give the board a list of repairs, waive nearly $2 million the board still owed the company, and pay the board $4 million to avoid a lawsuit.
"We're getting the improvements, we're getting the ability to continue to run our elections and we're getting money back," said Elections Board Executive Director Kevin Kennedy. [Yet to be announced is the fact that the state will be better off to scrap the Accenture software and start over again from scratch.]
Accenture spokesman Jim McAvoy issued a statement saying the Reston, Virginia,-based company was pleased with the settlement.
"We reiterate we are not at fault in this matter," McAvoy said. [The devil made them do it.]
The 2002 federal Help America Vote Act mandated each state build a voter registration database by January 2006.
Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming canceled their voter registration contracts with Accenture because of delays. Wisconsin's Elections Board entered into a contract with Accenture in November 2004 that called for the vendor to complete a fully operational product by March 2006, Kennedy said.
The contract was supposed to run through 2010, calling for Accenture to provide support for the system until then. The deal called for the Elections Board to pay the company $14 million by 2010. So far it's paid about $9 million.
But Kennedy said the system still isn't fully functional.
A state audit released in November of this year found the system still can't track ineligible voters and failed test runs created more technical glitches. More than 1,500 ex-felons were mistakenly branded ineligible to vote in November 2006 because municipal clerks used paper voter lists, the audit said.
[Accenture's] McAvoy said then the company fulfilled its contract and changes the state wanted were outside the scope of the deal. State workers may not have been entering information correctly, he added then. [A good database has referential integrity that makes it nearly impossible to enter bad data.]
Under the settlement, Accenture will provide workers to help the Elections Board resolve problems through February 28, 2003. After that, the state will be responsible for the system, Kennedy said. [It will then be announced that another RFP is to be issued, another contractor hired, and the cycle of failure begun again.]
"We will have full control over a functioning election administration system," he said. "We have also gained important experience that will serve us well in the future."
Kennedy said the system can run elections, but the name cross-checks still won't be online in time for Wisconsin's February 19, 2008, presidential primary. Clerks still will have to conduct felon matches and death matches making sure a voter isn't using a dead person's name by hand, he said.
State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, has criticized the Accenture contract for months. [Somebody in Wisconsin has some sense.]
"We finally realized what other states have realized. This was not a product they could produce," Pocan said. "The lesson learned is we can do things in smarter ways than we have with this project."
Kennedy said the board decided to stick with Accenture while other states cut the vendor loose because overall Wisconsin was still getting more out of the software than those states and starting over would have created problems in the 2006 and 2007 elections.
"We could send them packing and be behind, or invest our resources to get them to do what the contract required," Kennedy said.
Elections Board Chairman Robert Kasieta called the settlement fiscally responsible.
"The board recovers a significant percentage of what it paid Accenture," he said, "and Wisconsin elections proceed in compliance with federal law."
The Elections Board is set to merge with the state Ethics Board into the Government Accountability Board in January. Kennedy will run the new panel. The new board's elections division will administer the registration system. [Yup, leave the guy in charge who couldn't get the job done before. Got to love bureaucracy!]
Wyoming Secretary of State's Office
The Capitol Building Cheyenne, WY 82002-0020
(307) 777-5333 Fax: (307) 777-6217
For Immediate Release
Date: February 16, 2004
Contact: Joseph B. Meyer
Phone: (307) 777-5333
Fax: (307) 777-6217
Wyoming chooses Accenture eDemocracy services
Cheyenne, Wyoming - Secretary of State Joseph B. Meyer issued the following press release to the members of NASS (National Association of Secretaries of State) and NASED (National Association of Election Directors) who are meeting in Washington, D.C. Friday, February 13 through Monday, February 16, 2004.
I am pleased to announce to the attendees of NASS and NASED that the State of Wyoming has selected Accenture eDemocracy Services to implement and host its Statewide Voter Registration and Election Management System subject to final contract approvals. Wyoming's 23 counties are scheduled to be live on the new system in time to meet the January 1, 2006 HAVA deadline. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the reasons why Wyoming has chosen to work with Accenture eDemocracy Services in the event that the information may be useful to your state.
Why Wyoming chose Accenture eDemocracy services
When we started this process, we were looking for a company that could provide the State of Wyoming with a unique solution. Accenture eDemocracy offered a full-service, turnkey solution, including HAVA-compliant voter registration and election management software, all offered with a hosting option. The State of Wyoming has been in talks with Accenture eDemocracy Services for months, and we have developed a strong relationship of partnership and trust. We have confidence in their software, hosting solutions, time frame of implementation and in the team that will implement them.
Why Wyoming chose Accenture's new voter registration product AESM 2004 for Microsoft .NET
Accenture eDemocracy Services' new voter registration and election management software AESM 2004 (Accenture Election System Manager 2004 for Microsoft.NET) is designed to deliver a new, high level of statewide capability, more flexibility in look and feel of the system and more functionality for the end users, especially for the county clerks who will continue to conduct Wyoming elections. I believe that AESM 2004 will set a new standard for HAVA-compliant statewide voter registration and election management solutions. AESM 2004 is much more advanced than anything else we have seen.
Why Wyoming chose the hosting option
Like many states, Wyoming needs a system that will be up and running by January 2006, and, as a small state, we were mindful of the high costs of building and operating our own secure environment. Accenture eDemocracy Services' hosting solution is perfectly suited to our needs. Accenture will host the application for Wyoming in its hosting facilities which provide high levels of reliability and security, experienced system administrators and performance assurance through a negotiated Service Level Agreement. Accenture eDemocracy Services' hosting solution will enhance security and help Wyoming avoid state infrastructure investments and the ongoing costs of operating the system in-house. At the same time, the State will preserve its authority and control.
The State of Wyoming is excited about working with Accenture eDemocracy Services in the months ahead to continue in a strong relationship of partnership and trust as we implement AESM 2004 for the State of Wyoming.
Jackson Hole Star Tribune
March 10, 2006, Cheyenne (AP) Secretary of State Joe Meyer says county clerks asked for too much when the state contracted with a private company for a statewide voter registration system. Now, the system is dead before it even got off the ground.
Meyer announced Thursday that the state and Accenture had agreed to "unwind" their contract and that Accenture would return most of the $3.9 million it's been paid so far.
"We've just literally run out of time to get ready for the 2006 election," Meyer said. The state may take another shot at a statewide system after the 2006 elections are completed, but Meyer said someone else would have to make that decision since his term ends in 2007.
Election officials said the delay would not affect the 2006 elections.
"I'm sure we'll get through another election," said Laramie County Clerk Debbye Lathrop. "We do have a way to have all the voter registration information compiled at the state level. We've been doing that for years and years."
The new system was meant to meet the requirements of the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed in response to the election confusion in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. The law requires a statewide voter registration system.
But Wyoming's county clerks wanted more than just a bare-bones system that met the law's requirements, hoping to put together a "robust" system with additional features, Meyer said.
"We shot for the stars, but it took more time than we expected," he said.
Wyoming contracted with Accenture in February 2004, but when it became clear the system wouldn't be ready in time for the 2006 elections, Meyer said, county clerks decided to end the contract.
"There were too many pieces of the program that were just not working to our expectations as a group," said Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese. "It was a very difficult decision, but it was the right one for Wyoming."
© 2005 by John Moore, FCW.com
July 6, 2005 Accenture is gearing up for the first phase of an initiative to build a global supply-chain and maintenance system for the Marine Corps.
The company will implement the project in two segments. The first phase is a $4.5 million contract for planning, analysis and conceptual design, said Eric Stange, managing partner of Accenture's Defense and Homeland Security practice. If Accenture's design wins Marine approval, the integrator will embark on the second phase of the project, which covers designing, building, testing and deploying the system.
The new system falls within the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps program, a logistics modernization effort.
The global supply and maintenance system will use Oracle's E-Business Suite applications. The Marine Corps selected Oracle in its evaluation of enterprise resource planning products and Accenture consequently included the software in its bid.
Accenture's use of Oracle in the Marine project involves taking a horizontal slice of the E-Business Suite modules rather than using the entirety of each module, Stange said. In addition, Accenture will put multiple instances of the Oracle software into production to support Marine units that are in garrison or deployed.
Stange said one technical challenge will be providing network support and synchronization capability so when a deployed unit re-establishes a connection to the Marines' network "it can rapidly sync back up with the rest of the enterprise."
Oracle Consulting, a subcontractor to Accenture, will help with the synchronization piece of the project. Oracle Consulting is Oracle's professional services arm.
Stanley Associates, another Accenture subcontractor, will provide its domain expertise in Marine logistics operations, Stange said.
Work will be performed at a Stanley-leased facility in Dumfries, Va., near Quantico. Sixty people will work on the project including 15 Marine employees.
© 2006 by Judi Hasson and Frank Tiboni, FCW.com
January 19, 2006 The Marine Corps has issued a stop-work order on a six-month, $4.5 million contract awarded to Accenture in July 2005 to design and implement the service's new global supply chain and maintenance system.
Capt. Jay Delarosa, a Marine spokesman, confirmed today that the service issued the stop-work order on the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps. James McAvoy, an Accenture spokesman, said the company is in discussions with the Marines about it. Both men declined further comment.
The system, a logistics modernization program, will use Oracle's E-Business Suite. The Marines selected the Oracle tool when evaluating enterprise resource planning products, and Accenture consequently included the software in its bid.
© 2006 by Frank Tiboni, FCW.com
February 2, 2006 The Marine Corps has terminated a six-month, $4.5 million contract awarded to Accenture last summer to design and implement its new global supply chain and maintenance system.
The Marines canceled Accenture's contract on the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps because the company did not meet the contract's requirements, terms and conditions, said Capt. Jeff Landis, a spokesman at the Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, Va. He confirmed the contract termination today and read parts of the termination-for-cause letter.
Accenture failed to deliver substantial documentation in support of the system's detailed design review. The company also did not comply with cost, schedule, and performance baselines and risk assessments for the next phase of the program, Landis said.
Accenture did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The Marines divided the program into two phases. Phase One was a $4.5 million contract to Accenture for system planning, analysis and conceptual design. Phase Two was a $36.8 million contract that the Marines could have exercised for system design, tests and construction.
The Marines sent the termination letter January 18, 2006, after it issued a stop-work order December 22, 2005. They awarded the systems integration contract to Accenture in July 2005 after selecting Oracle's E-Business Suite product for the logistics modernization program.
Landis said the Marines plan to recompete the contract, but he did not provide a date for the release of the new solicitation. He said they will meet extensively with companies to discuss the contract's future.
"We want to make sure the same thing doesn't happen again," Landis said.
When it started out the objective was for Accenture to build on their election.com subsidiary's participation in election modernization pilots in May 2002 and 2003.
The pilot projects were part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's commitment to make it easier and more convenient for citizens to engage with government. Key elements of the program were to include Internet, phone and public access kiosk voting; smart card deployment for voter authentication; and real-time, online voter registration rolls.
© 2006 ChicagoBusiness.com
April 9, 2006 A lucrative technology contract that was supposed to bring Accenture Ltd. accolades has instead turned into a costly embarrassment accompanied by a tongue-lashing in the British Parliament.
In late February, Member of Parliament Richard Bacon said his government's project to digitize medical records, for which Accenture is a lead contractor, shows "all the classic signs of a huge information technology failure."
"Every (doctor) you speak to spits blood when you talk about it," Mr. Bacon thundered.
Irritated parliamentarians aren't Accenture's only problems across the pond. The consulting firm's deal with the U.K. National Health Service (NHS), signed with great fanfare in December 2003 and expected to reap Accenture $3.3 billion over 10 years, has turned upside down.
The firm now expects to lose $800 million through 2007. Accenture CEO William Green has personally assumed responsibility for the project, which represents 1% of the firm's total annual revenues.
Frustration with the deal has reached these shores as well. Shareholders are asking why Accenture shouldn't cut its losses and walk away. Others say walking away would make it harder for Accenture to win more contracts in the global push to digitize health records. Still others wish the company would just make the British problem go away.
"We'd like to not hear NHS come up in the future," says Ken Kuhrt, research analyst for Ariel Capital Management LLC in Chicago, which owns 13.9 million Accenture shares.
The outcry over the British quagmire reached a crescendo late last month when Accenture announced, in its second-quarter earnings conference call, that it would take a chargeoff related to the contract of $450 million. That reduced second-quarter profits to $69.7 million, or 11 cents a share, from $209.8 million, or 35 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. The news sent Accenture's share price down 9%, just days after the stock hit a 52-week high of $32.66. Shares closed at $29.03 Friday.
An Accenture spokesman says the company is determined to renegotiate with the British. "We plan to realign the conditions and obligations of the contracts with our client to reflect the current reality," he says.
But an NHS spokesman in London says the agency expects Accenture to live up to the deal's original terms. "There is currently no renegotiation of the contract," he says.
What went wrong? The problems began last year, when Accenture first announced delays. This year, Accenture said, iSoft PLC, a company it hired to write software for the digital records system, failed to deliver the software on time, which put the project further behind schedule.
Accenture now says it will incur increased costs due to the delay and that the delay is causing some British doctors and health care providers to use digital records systems from other suppliers. That will reduce the revenue Accenture had expected from the deal.
iSoft declines comment except to say that it is working with Accenture and NHS to resolve the problem.
In seeking a renegotiation, Mr. Green is hoping to change the deployment schedule to reduce losses. But it may be too late, and some wonder why Accenture didn't protect itself from subcontractor error in the original contract.
"It's frustrating," says Bob Smith, portfolio manager for Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price Group Inc., which owns 18.5 million Accenture shares. "You' d think there would be some clause (in the contract) that you would be relieved of some cost, but they had none. That's not common sense."
At this point, Mr. Smith sees little hope of salvaging the deal. "I don't think it will ever become a good contract," he says.
But if Accenture chooses to walk away, it could seriously damage the firm's reputation and its chances to help other countries and health systems convert from paper to computerized health records. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, has tapped Accenture for a smaller digital records pilot program that could grow into a larger project.
"Other countries around the world are looking at (this project) very closely," says Jonathan Edwards, London-based research director for health care for research firm Gartner Inc. in Connecticut. "They are looking at the vendors involved in the project."
Then again, maybe Accenture would be better off avoiding big, long-term contracts. Competitive bidding for those deals can often put the winning firm in a poor negotiating position.
"It's a delicate balance, bidding to win business at the same time you have to have a good, tight control over the financial side," says Paul Chew, equity research director for Baltimore-based Brown Investment Advisory and Trust Co., which owns 1.14 million Accenture shares.
Mr. Chew admits that part of the reason companies go after multibillion-dollar contracts is because "we as investors tend to be overly excited about big-dollar contracts."
"The reality is, the bigger the contract, the lower the profitability," Mr. Chew says. [EJF note: Chew deals in percentages not total dollars of profit.]
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