Some interesting facts on Accenture, the company tasked with evaluating Healthcare.gov’s status, from the New York Post:
Accenture saves money by underpaying foreign guest workers they import — typically 25 percent less for their imported employees than the prevailing wage for a similar US citizen worker.
Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, analyzed Accenture’s use of the H-1B program. In 2005, the company had 12,684 H-1B foreign guest workers earning an average of $53,042 per year. That’s far less than the median $80,000 salary the same job responsibilities and skills required would fetch for an American worker. Accenture is so bad, they paid a foreign guest worker $25,113 per year — for the title of “chief programmer.” Typically chief programmers make six figures in the United States.
It appears undercutting wages with H-1B visas is part of Accenture’s business model. Hira found that, in 2012, the median salary paid for Accenture’s new H-1B workers was $64,700, while Amazon paid their equivalent H-1B workers a median salary of $95,000. Google, who also uses comparable technical skills sets to Accenture and Amazon, paid a median salary of $110,000 to their new H-1B visa hires.
Accenture also avoids American taxes. The company is headquartered in Chicago, but it’s incorporated in noted tax haven Ireland.
It’s tremendously easy to be profitable when you’re a scofflaw. And, as this case illustrates, scofflaws are rewarded with lucrative government contracts. Sounds like perverse incentives to me but it’s completely consistent with the Tim Geithner model of technocratic governance.
In defense of Accenture, née Andersen Consulting, there is probably no company better suited to identify the reasons that the Healthcare.gov project went wrong and my understanding is that’s the task they’ve been assigned.
Many years ago I took a class from Andersen Consulting and was certified in their project management methodology. After a couple of days of mind-numbingly boring classes, I asked a question of the instructor to the effect that I was getting the impression that their project management methodology was intended to assist managers in assisting managers in identifying where projects had gone wrong rather than giving them tools for seeing to it that projects go right. The instructor agreed enthusiastically. Perhaps things have changed over the years but my experience is that corporate cultures change very slowly, even more slowly when the companies are successful as Accenture has been.
I would also suggest that there is no company better prepared than Accenture to give the client the answer they wanted rather than the answer that they needed. The client here is the federal government and if that’s the case, their results could give us a handy window into what the Obama Administration wants to hear about Healthcare.gov.