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Waste and Abuse in Homeland Security Contracts

A followup to Monday's Dispatch on waste and corruption in privatization of government services: it turns out that Accenture, the company that screwed up in taking over Texas's human services computer systems, is also a star player in a new Congressional report, Waste, Abuse, and Mismanagement of Homeland Security Contracts.

In June 2004, Accenture was awarded a ten-year, $10 billion contract to implement US-VISIT, a program to collect and store personal information, fingerprints and photographs on all visitors to the United States. According to the Congressional investigation, Accenture used "out-of-date and ineffective technologies" that failed to integrate US-VISIT data effectively with other computer systems, such as FBI crime data, even as "the system’s security has multiple weaknesses that leave it vulnerable to unauthorized access."

So Accenture designed a system that is both ineffective AND undermines the nation's security.

And this is the company that Texas is trusting with personal data about the health care of its states' citizens? As Mike Gross, vice-president of the Texas State Employees Union, notes, "Using a company that relies on 'out-of-date and ineffective technologies' doesn't seem like a smart way to modernize Texas' health and human services delivery system."

Read the whole Congressional report. It details how private contracting by the Department of Homeland Security nearly tripled in the last few years-- and the result has been a story of wasted taxpayer dollars and failed services for the public. It's a cautionary tale for states thinking about privatizing local services.

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