The U.S. Postal Service should consider suspending or debarring one of its largest contractors, information technology firm Accenture, from future work because of the risk of fraud, the agency’s inspector general said in a newly released audit.
Accenture “has demonstrated an absence of business ethics, a lack of transparency and insufficient internal controls in its business dealings with the Postal Service,” according to the audit, which also cited Accenture’s $64 million settlement two years ago with the Justice Department to resolve kickback allegations stemming from its hardware and software recommendations to other agencies. Besides potentially cutting off future business to Accenture, the Postal Service should consider ending existing contracts, the IG said.
The audit comes six months after the inspector general concluded in a separate review that Accenture wasn’t attempting to fix its system for tracking actual contract costs in comparison with estimated costs and hadn’t fully addressed an earlier recommendation to periodically review its estimating system.Under a suspension, the firm would be barred from USPS contracting and subcontracting for one year; a debarment could last up to three years.
With about $135 million in payments last year, Accenture ranked among the Postal Service’s top ten contractors. In an email, Joanne Veto, a spokeswoman for Accenture Federal Services, said the company has worked closely with the Postal Service to address any concerns. She otherwise referred to the written response to the audit from Susan Brownell, USPS vice president for supply management, who said that neither suspension nor debarment is warranted. No other agency has blocked Accenture from government work because of the Justice Department settlement, Brownell said, adding that Accenture has corrected problems with its cost estimating system and “provided assurances to Postal Service management of operating with transparency, integrity and openness in their business dealings with us.”