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Payments To Firm Deemed Improper

Auditor Deborah K. Nichols says city finance managers failed to properly oversee the work of consultant Accenture.
Auditor Deborah K. Nichols says city finance managers failed to properly oversee the work of consultant Accenture. (2007 Photo By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
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For one worker, the firm billed $3.6 million in labor over five years, plus $199,000 in relocation compensation and $3,700 for apartment rental, as well as per diem food costs and travel. Combining the hourly cost and additional expenses, the District paid an annual average of $717,705 for that employee to work 41 weeks a year.

In another example, Accenture billed $513,000 for one worker in one year, plus $61,000 in rent, $10,000 in food and $32,000 in travel costs.

Other examples included someone who was paid $111,000 in relocation expenses, another who got $76,000 for relocation while getting $76,000 for rent, and a third who got $65,000 for relocation and $29,000 for rent.

Gandhi's office said all expenses were justified, but it agreed that future travel and related costs should be "rare and infrequent."

Nichols recommended that Gandhi work with the attorney general to try to recoup costs from Accenture for the expenses and other costs she deemed excessive. Gandhi disagreed. He wrote that the efforts would be met by fierce resistance by Accenture and not yield a large return.

Nichols ruled that expenses not directly related to work for the District totaled $635,000 in relocation compensation; $615,000 in apartment rentals; $7,200 in furniture rentals and related costs; and $63,000 for car rentals.

She also contested $289,000 in travel expenses, $113,000 in per diem food costs and $30,000 for supplies.

One employee's car rental was $11,570 in a single year.

The District paid parking fees for cars left in out-of-town airports, travel agency fees and plane tickets, including a one-way and three round-trip flights to Puerto Rico in a single month, followed by another round trip two months later. Accenture said that employee was traveling home.

Nichols said the tax office should not have paid for two retreats within a week in 2000 for Office of Tax and Revenue managers. Accenture was paid $14,436 in expenses for the two meetings, at Gallaudet University's Kellogg Conference Center.


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