Rules panel splits decision on Accenture's DHS contracts

The House Rules Committee has blocked an effort to cancel Accenture LLP's multibillion-dollar U.S. Visit contract to integrate a virtual border for the Homeland Security Department.

But Accenture could be barred from receiving additional DHS contracts if the Homeland Security appropriations bill passes into law as currently written.

The amendment that would have blocked the U.S. Visit contract arose in the markup of the Homeland Security appropriations bill on June 9. Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) and other sponsors succeeded in passing it by a bipartisan vote. The full Appropriations Committee subsequently approved the $32 billion spending bill, which passed through the Rules Committee on its way to the House floor.

The rules panel, which sets procedures for floor debate, exposed the section of DeLauro's amendment that would block Accenture's U.S. Visit contract to amendment on the floor. Because of oppositiont to DeLauro's U.S. Visit amendment mounted by Reps. Tom Davis (R) and Jim Moran (D), both of Virginia, among others, that provision is likely to be stricken from the bill.

But the Rules Committee protected other parts of the DeLauro amendment. As a result, Accenture could be barred from future DHS contracts unless the rest of DeLauro's amendment is eliminated or watered down at a future point in the legislative process, sources said.

DeLauro called the Rules Committee action an important victory. "I am pleased the Rules Committee took notice of the outcry of patriotic Americans'upset that companies would relocate their corporate headquarters overseas to avoid taxes, yet still get contracts for our homeland defense,' she said.

Accenture spokesman Jim McAvoy said, 'Accenture and the Smart Border Alliance team won the U.S. Visit contract in a fair and open competition.' He noted that DHS awarded the contract to Accenture LLP, the company's U.S. subsidiary.

'Accenture pays taxes in the U.S. on its U.S. income and all of the work on this contract will be done in the U.S.,' McAvoy added. 'It is still early in the legislative process, and we will continue to monitor events.'

The homeland security spending bill must be passed by the full House and Senate, and faces further changes in a conference committee. The virtual border project is also known as the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Tracking System.

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