March 17, 2005
Did Accenture get a helping hand?

I noted before that Accenture won the bidding to provide call center services to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Today in the Statesman, two State Reps are alleging that they had inside help.

On Wednesday, Albert Hawkins, executive commissioner of the state's health and human services agencies, said that he had asked the Office of Inspector General to investigate the evaluation process. He made the request Feb. 22 — three days before his agency officially announced the tentative contract award to Accenture.

And the chairman of the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee, Rep. Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, said on Wednesday that his committee started looking into the matter late last week.

"I haven't gotten any firm information yet, but there have been allegations that they (Accenture) may have some friends in high places, and there's been some questions about whether they are competent to handle this kind of contract," Bailey said.

Peter Soh, an Accenture spokesman, said the accusations outlined in the letter by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, and Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston,"are without merit."

"We have no reason to believe that Accenture violated any laws or procurement rules in the preparation of our eligibility proposal," he said.

IBM officials, who have filed a protest with the commission, declined to comment, citing the ongoing process.


The same day they received IBM's protest, state officials received the letter by Dukes and Turner. Dukes said she received her information anonymously.

"It is our understanding that Accenture bragged to another vendor that they obtained copies of (IBM's) proprietary technical architecture for the . . . proposal, and that Accenture's Tim Overend shared the architecture with a vendor, commenting that others were retaining the information on their computers," the letter reads.

Overend declined to comment when reached at his office Wednesday.

The letter also states that:

•Hazel Baylor, a contractor for Accenture, was the commission's deputy commissioner for planning, evaluation and project management in 2004 and had specific knowledge about the request for proposals.

•Gary Gumbert, the commission's chief information officer, was hired within the past year from Maximus, which has partnered with Accenture on the project proposal.

•Anne Sapp, a commission employee who had attended confidential vendor presentations as part of the agency's proposal evaluation team, is Baylor's housemate.

I've said before that one of the reasons I have problems with the privatization concept is that with all the money at stake - we're talking a billion dollars here - there's a strong incentive for graft. There may be nothing to these allegations, but if it didn't happen here, it will happen somewhere else.

I'm sure Father John will have something to say about this. In the meantime, he's got more on the Colorado mess here and here. Statesman link via Clean Up Texas Politics.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 17, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack