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DHHS still using NC Fast contractor with troubled past

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NC Fast is a statewide computer system aimed at quickly getting food stamps to people in need. NC Fast is a statewide computer system aimed at quickly getting food stamps to people in need.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The company tasked with streamlining the state's food stamps program has a history of complaints nationwide, WNCN learned Thursday.

NC Fast is a statewide computer system aimed at quickly getting food stamps to people in need. But the program has proven to be anything but quick as an application backlog has meant that people are going hungry.

Food bank organizations in Raleigh, Nashville, Wilson and Fayetteville have all previously told WNCN that food stamp recipients are turning to them because they are not getting what they need through NC Fast. In fact, at the Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh, the situation has become so dire that the NC Fast program is nicknamed "NC Fasting."

While problems linger, it remains unclear who is to blame for the backlog. What is clear is that the company the Department of Health and Human Services tasked with streamlining the program, Accenture, has a history of complaints.

The state contracted with Accenture -- "a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company" -- in 2010, under the previous administration.

In multiple states across the country, including New York, Texas and Colorado, Accenture has faced serious allegations.

In New York in 2001: A $37.5 million contract for work that took eight years to see results, and ended up with costs exceeding 300% of the original cost. There was no formal action against the company.

In Colorado in 2005: A $39.6 million contract was behind schedule, and the state said the company breached the contract.

In Texas in 2007: An $899 million contract was behind schedule and $100 million over budget. That contract was terminated.

And in 2011, whistleblower lawsuit alleged the company submitted false claims under numerous contracts and received kickbacks for recommending certain hardware and software to the government. Accenture agreed to pay the U.S. $63 million.

Peter Soh, with Accenture, called the allegations "old and completely baseless."

"The allegations on the Project on Government Oversight site are out old, filled with errors and completely baseless," Soh said.

"Accenture has a strong record of serving private and public sector clients in the U.S. and around the world, and is pleased to be North Carolina's partner in implementing NC FAST," Soh said.

The Project on Government Oversight responded to Soh's allegations, saying, "We stand by the accuracy of the data in our Federal Contractor Misconduct Database. In fact, we gave Accenture the opportunity to review and submit comments about the data, which it did via an emailed statement from Mr. Soh."

The North Carolina DHHS would not say how it felt Accenture was handling the NC Fast program, only that it "monitors all contracts closely."

You can read the Project on Government Oversight's report on Accenture at the link below:

http://tinyurl.com/obyrcuf

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