Accenture has agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle a lawsuit originally filed in 2006 (United States ex rel. Norman Rille and Neal Roberts v. Accenture LLP) for $63.68 million. The lawsuit claimed that, in work for the U.S. federal government, Accenture received payments, resale revenue or other benefits through alliance agreements with technology vendors that were not sufficiently disclosed and that were not allowed on federal contracts.
The company says the agreement is not an admission of liability, and continues to vigorously deny that there was any wrongdoing. It also says that the U.S. federal government was aware of alliance relationships in the IT industry, and how they would benefit customers, vendors and the industry.
Accenture’s alliance agreements with IT vendors were disclosed in proposals made to its US government clients, says Accenture, and adds that it remains confident that its agreements and dealings with alliance partners and vendors were appropriate and lawful. The settlement will not materially impact Accenture’s results of operations or financial position, says the company, nor will it restrict current or future business with the U.S. federal government in any way. You can read Accenture’s statement here.
In a separate statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Justice Department says, Accenture has agreed to resolve allegations that it received kickbacks for its recommendations of hardware and software to the government, fraudulently inflated prices and rigged bids in connection with federal information technology contracts. You can read the statement issued by the Department of Justice here.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, alleges that Accenture submitted or caused to be submitted false claims for payment under numerous contracts with agencies of the United States for information technology services, according to the release.
The lawsuit was initially filed by Norman Rille and Neal Roberts under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act, which permit private individuals, called “relators” to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant. The portion of the proceeds to be paid in this case has not yet been resolved.
“Kickbacks and bid rigging undermine the integrity of the federal procurement process,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “At a time when we’re looking for ways to reduce our public spending, it is especially important to ensure that government contractors play by the rules and don’t waste precious taxpayer dollars.”
The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 are more than $7.5 billion.