Accenture's U.S. Visit award draws fire

The Homeland Security Department and two congressional supporters are rallying around Accenture Ltd. and defending the decision to award the U.S. Visit contract to a company headquartered outside the United States.

Soon after the award of the contract in late May to build a system to monitor the comings and goings of foreign visitors to the United States, Accenture came under attack because its corporate headquarters is in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) pushed an amendment through the House Appropriations Committee that would bar DHS from doing business with certain companies with foreign headquarters. The amendment would strip the contract from Accenture.

The complaint is that companies such as Accenture are based in Bermuda to avoid paying taxes, a charge Accenture denies.

DHS officials quickly defended their decision to award the contract to Accenture LLP, the U.S. subsidiary of the parent company. The contract has a ceiling of $10 billion over 10 years.

Accenture "met the criteria of procurement. They have 25,000 U.S. employees. They pay federal taxes," said Asa Hutchinson, DHS undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security.

Also coming to Accenture's defense were two Northern Virginia House members, Republican Tom Davis and Democrat Jim Moran. They wrote to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge praising the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator system procurement as "fair, open, on time and fiercely competed." Accenture's government unit is in Reston, Va.

To take effect, DeLauro's amendment would have to pass the House and Senate as part of the DHS appropriations bill.

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