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Date Posted: 22:02:36 03/15/05 Tue
Author: No name
Subject: Is Accenture Right for Wisconsin Deal?
In reply to: 's message, "Leave the Jewish Mafia Alone" on 21:30:04 03/15/05 Tue

www.thedailypage.com/features/docfeed/docs/document.php?intdocid=104 Is Accenture right for Wisconsin? Criticism emerges over decision to hire Bermuda-based firm to ‘run’ the state’s elections What follows is an article and supporting materials regarding the decision of the state Elections Board to hire Accenture, a Bermuda-based firm, to compile a list of eligible state voters and perform other election-related functions. The article appears in the Nov. 26 issue of Isthmus. These documents are formatted differently than the original form; the letter from Kevin Kennedy was scanned in electronically, which could have resulted in minor errors.The Isthmus article by Bill Lueders Barbara Smith’s letter to state lawmakers Smith handout on Accenture, with hotlinks Kevin Kennedy’s response letter to WPEC 1. The Isthmus article ELECTIONS BOARD State pact with Accenture draws fire Critics rip decision to hire Bermuda-based firm to compile Wisconsin voter list By Bill Lueders -A couple of days after Barb Smith attended a Madison meeting of No Stolen Elections, a group probing possible corruption of the Nov. 2 residential vote, she learned about the state Election Board’s decision to contract with Accenture, a multinational company to whom controversy attaches like stink on sheep. “I started looking into it,” says Smith, 37, who works for the state Division of Energy. “The more I learned, the more appalled I became.” Smith, acting as a private citizen, has compiled a wealth of information about Accenture, which has just signed a $13 million contract to create a new state voter registration system, as mandated by new federal rules and covered by federal funds. Accenture stands accused of massive mismanagement if not attempted fraud in its handling of a $2.7 million database contract with the state of Florida, discussed in more detail below. Accenture is part of Anderson, the now-defunct accountant that cooked Enron’s books, Accenture has entered into partnerships with war-profiteer Halliburton and Titan, a firm implicated in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. And the U.S. SEC is reportedly investigating Accenture for possibly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, over an alleged instance of bribery in the Middle East. Accenture, which this year posted net revenues of $13.67 billion, is hadquartered in Bermuda, allegedly to avoid paying U.S. taxes. “I just think that’s something a lot of people recognize is wrong,” says Smith of this Bermuda connection. “It’s not just that they’re dodging taxes. It makes the company less accountable.” Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the state Elections Board, says the contract is with an Illinois-based offshoot called Accenture LLP. But he concedes the operation is tied to its Bermuda parent, and that the agreement could not have been struck if the state had a policy against doing business with off-shore-based firms. It doesn’t. The new state voting registration list is needed to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, passed in 2002. The law requires each state to compile, by January 2006, a voter list that can be checked against other lists, like those of drivers, felons and dead people. Its purpose is to ensure “uniform and nondiscriminatory” practices and catch voting fraud, something officials say has never been much of a problem in Wisconsin. Indeed, Kennedy says he “would not” be seeking the creation of this list were it not required, “mostly because of the cost.” Creating and maintaining the list is expected to cost about $22 million through 2010, not including some Election Board costs. Besides the $13 million deal with Accenture, $9 million will be spent building servers, hiring a project manager (the firm of Deloitte Touche has snared this $2.6 million contract) and hiring eight additional Elections Board workers. The cost of this and other HAVA-mandated changes, prominently including the requirement that every polling place have at least one fully accessible station for people with disabilities, will be covered by a $50 million federal payment. Accenture’s job, says Kennedy, is to create a “total management package…to run our elections.” By this, he means the system’s tools will be used for all of the election-related tasks performed by municipal clerks. Election results, he promises, “will still be tabulated the same way they are now.” But for citizens worried about the integrity of the state’s electoral process, any role by Accenture is a cause for concern. Florida’s recent experience is a key case in point. After widespread problems in the 2000 election, Florida hired Accenture to compile a list of convicted felons who were ineligible to vote under Florida’s highly restrictive laws. (In Florida, convicted felons cannot vote unless their voting rights are specifically restored through a clemency process; in other states, including Wisconsin, they need only complete their prison terms and extended supervision.) The company, which in its campaign contributions leans heavily to Republican candidates, proceeded to compile 48,000 names. In July 2004, shortly before this list was about to be used to purge “ineligible” voters from the rolls, the Miami Herald reported that 2,100 people, mostly black Democrats, whose voting rights had been restored. It also found that Accenture’s list contained virtually no Hispanics. In Florida, the majority of Hispanics vote Republican. “Apparently,” notes Smith in her letter to lawmakers, “there was no field or ‘Hispanic’ on one of the lists. Thus if the felon lists were used as developed, virtually all Hispanic felons would be allowed to vote, while other felons would not be.” After these problems were discovered, Florida abandoned plans to use Accenture’s list, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights asked the Justice Department to investigate. “If it was intentional, it may well have been a criminal violation of the Civil Rights Act,” said Civil Rights Commissioner Christopher Edley Jr. “It’s not just about a sloppy database. It’s about…the deprivation of a fundamental civil right.” ccenture, through Washington, D.C.-based spokesperson James McAvoy, ignored a request for comment. Kennedy, of the Elections Board, says the problems in Florida, as he understands it, owed to “incompatible lists” provided by elections officials. Actually, the problems apparently went deeper than that. The Miami Herald unearthed a memo from state officials to Accenture, written before the felons-list issues came to light, detailing what the paper summarized as “a half-dozen missed deadlines and broken promises, failed software programs, repeated miscues and personnel problems.” Spurred in part by citizens like Smith, there is significant resistance to the Accenture deal among state lawmakers and unions representing state employees. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) notes that the Legislature’s Committee of Campaigns and Elections, on which he serves, had “no oversight whatsoever” regarding this decision. “It’s rather interesting,” he says, noting the contract’s high cost and the controversy that swirls around Accenture. “You’d think the state Elections Board would want some ownership from the Legislature, which may have to defend this contract.” Kennedy says the board followed the state’s procurement process and suggests it’s a good thing the Legislature and governor are not involved in such matters, lest that “open the door to political influence.” Accenture has reportedly outsourced about 10,000 jobs, mostly to India. State Sen. Judy Robson (D-Beloit) raised a red flag on this score, but was told that the state’s contract requires all work to be done in the United States. “I’m still concerned,” says Robson. “I’m going to keep monitoring this and putting a spotlight on this.” Finally, there are worries about privatizing essential state services. The Wisconsin Professional Employees Council on Oct. 29 formally appealed the decision to contract with Accenture, saying the employees it represents “could have performed” this work. Kennedy denied the appeal, saying the job was beyond the state’s capabilities. Also, he said, the timeline was too tight to reopen the process. State Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison) sees this as indicative of a larger problem. “State government has been contracting out more and more of the work that could be done by state employees,” he says, adding that this is often more costly even if it does mean a smaller state payroll. “In general, the work is done better and more frugally if done by state employees.” There is no need to cover the profit of the private provider, and the money spent stays in Wisconsin, bolstering the economy.Cathy Rought, spokesperson for AFT Wisconsin, which represents 17,000 state employees, says her union is hoping there’s still some way to reverse the Election Board’s decision: “Privatization of something as vital as the election process is really a mistake.” Indeed, some state workers are planning a protest outside the Elections Board’s Madison office next Tuesday, Nov. 30, at noon. Expect Barb Smith to be there. Smith: ‘The more I learned, the more appalled I became.

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