2001 Accenture and Election.com have been strategic partners "to
jointly deliver comprehensive election solutions to governments
Company Captures Online Military Vote
Posted July 17, 2003
year, while President Bush marshaled U.S. forces for the invasion of Iraq,
the patriots at the Department of Defense awarded the contract for a new
online voting system for the military... to an offshore company.
It gets worse. Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE)
is the system and Accenture (formerly Anderson Consulting of Enron
bankruptcy fame) is the company. And although Accenture has not been
officially implicated in the Enron scandal, they have created a reputation
of their own that is already raising eyebrows.
This is hot off the newswire -- 7/15/03 NEW YORK (CBS.MW) -- Accenture Ltd.,
the former Andersen Consulting, disclosed Tuesday that it might have
violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Chairman and CEO Joe
Forehand, on an earnings call with analysts and reporters Tuesday, said the
consulting firm's Middle East operations could be in non-compliance with the
Act, which prohibits the bribery of foreign government officials by U.S.
The Canada-based Polaris Institute published a scathing report on Accenture,
saying, "Accenture's efforts in government outsourcing have often been
very expensive and/or of poor quality. There is good reason to question
Accenture's track record in outsourcing of government services."
Accenture is the leading offshore beneficiary of government contracts whose
main business is the privatization of government services, according to Lee
Drutman of Citizen Works, a non-profit founded by Ralph Nader. Accenture has
a troubling track record, a close business relationship with Dick Cheney's
Halliburton, and 2500 partners - more than half are not U.S. citizens.
Since 2001 Accenture and Election.com have been strategic partners "to
jointly deliver comprehensive election solutions to governments
worldwide," according to their press release. Last month Accenture
bought the public-sector election assets of Election.com, which suffered its
own scandal this year when it was discovered that Osan Ltd, a firm of Saudi
and other foreign investors, bought controlling interest in it. According to
Mark Harrington of NewsDay.com, "Several shareholders of the company
said they were surprised by the recent buyout and have asked for securities
regulators to investigate."
Election.com has had other problems. In January 2003, during Canada's New
Democratic Party leadership convention, the Canadian Broadcasting System
reported, "Earl Hurd of Election.com said he believes someone used a
"denial of service" program to disrupt the voting - paralyzing the
central computer by bombarding it with a stream of data".service was
restored, then. "Toronto city councilor Jack Layton's victory on the
first ballot surprised many, who had expected a second or even third round
of voting before a leader was chosen from the pack of six candidates."
For election security experts, a strong and growing suspicion is that
computer glitches or disruptions are actually vote rigging. A surprise
election result should raise a red flag.
Accenture is big. It has more than 75,000 employees in 47 countries, and
generated net revenues of $11.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31,
2002. On their Board of Directors is Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO
and known to many as Bad Boy Ballmer for his ruthless, if not illegal,
business practices. Microsoft has been sued by the federal government and
several states for monopolistic business practices which were designed to
destroy their competition. Massachusetts's Attorney General is still
pursuing Microsoft. In March 13, 2000 Andersen Consulting (now Accenture)
and Microsoft signed a "$1 Billion Pact To Form Joint Venture and
Expand Global Alliance." What's the alliance? To control voting systems
around the world?
A sense of civic duty isn't high on Accenture's list of priorities.
According to an article last year in TheDailyEnron.com, "Accenture is
lobbying furiously on Capitol Hill to defeat a measure that would deny
federal contracts to US companies that move offshore to escape US taxes.
Accenture, you see, has incorporated in Bermuda. But, Accenture also holds
nearly $1 billion in government contracts in the US. The company earned
nearly $700 million last year working for Uncle Sam and - ironically - is
currently under contract with the Internal Revenue Service itself to
redesign its online and Internet operations."
Then there's the Accenture connection to Halliburton, vice president Dick
Cheney's former employer. Halliburton is widely criticized for doing
business with brutal regimes and was the subject of a SEC investigation and
several lawsuits surrounding their accounting practices during and after
Cheney's tenure at the helm. The Polaris Institute says that in July 2000
David Lesar succeeded Dick Cheney as Chairman and CEO of Halliburton
Company. Before joining Halliburton, Lesar was employed by the Arthur
Andersen, Accenture's former parent company. Polaris says, ".while
defending Halliburton's accounting practices, David Lesar publicly
acknowledged that Cheney knew about the firm's accounting practices..."
In an October 2001 press release, Halliburton and Accenture announced a
major expansion of their longstanding relationship with the signing of an
alliance between Accenture and Landmark Graphics Corporation, a wholly owned
business unit of Halliburton.
And unlike the words of the U.S. military's anthem, "I'm proud to be an
American", Accenture owes its allegiance to "partners"
outside of the USA.
In a letter to the editor of the Austin Chronicle last year, Accenture's
Director of Corporate Communications, Roxanne Taylor wrote, "When
Accenture's parent company, Accenture Ltd., was first incorporated last
year, the organization's 2,500 partners, more than half of whom are non-U.S.
citizens, decided to incorporate in Bermuda. With thousands of partners and
employees of many nationalities, it was important commercially and
culturally for the organization to select a neutral location such as Bermuda
for its parent company."
How very global of them.
Potentially, 6 million U.S. military and civilian voters could soon be using
the military's new online voting system. According to computer voting
security experts, any online system will be easy to rig by company insiders
and vulnerable to attack by outsiders. Apart from that reality, does the
U.S. military really want a company owned by non-U.S. citizens in charge of
Can anyone at the Pentagon spell "national security"?
Landes is a freelance journalist at EcoTalk.org. Formerly Lynn was a radio
show host, a regular commentator for a BBC radio program, and environmental
news reporter for DUTV in Philadelphia, PA. (215) 629-3553 / email@example.com