Wisconsin deal with Accenture raises eyebrows

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Wisconsin has agreed to a $58 million information technology contract with Accenture, but the deal is coming under some scrutiny based on the company’s previous dealings with the state.

In 2007, Accenture was the lead on a contract to update the state’s voter registration system, but that project was ultimately canceled and the company forced to pay back several million dollars to avoid a lawsuit.

Deputy Department of Administration Secretary Chris Schoenherr told The Associated Press on Thursday he believes the company learned from that mistake and compared it to a football team that lost a game during the season, but is still talented enough to win the Super Bowl.

“We expect them to bring their A team, bring their A game, and have a Super Bowl-level performance,” Schoenherr said.

This project has already been delayed once, originally starting in 2008, but put on hiatus because of the recession. The project will overhaul the state’s various computer systems and was only 5 percent complete when originally canceled.

The hope now is that with the project starting again, it can be fully completed. In total, the project is estimated to cost about $200 million and be done over a three-year period.

When completed, disparate state agency administrative systems to support financial, human resources, payroll and procurement activities — some that are more than 30 years old — will be replaced with one integrated system.

Schoenherr said that will allow the state to operate more efficiently and over 10 years save an estimated $100 million.

Schoenherr said the state’s top information technology workers have been brought together to work with Accenture on the transition.

Given the scope of the project, and problems it’s had in the past, many people don’t believe it can get done, Schoenherr said.

“The No. 1 issue for us is we want something that works,” he said.

Accenture could not be reached immediately for comment.

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