Accenture readies for 2005

Accenture is coming off an eventful 2004 that saw their burgeoning federal government practice win a high-profile contract and lose a dynamic group leader to a promotion. But company officials are looking to 2005 as a time of new opportunities.

Steve Rohleder, who led the government group to its win last year of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) system contract, was promoted to chief operating officer. He was succeeded by Martin Cole, who had been global managing partner for Accenture's outsourcing practice.

Now, company officials want to turn their energies to health care, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and command and control systems in the Defense Department, said Lisa Mascolo, managing partner of the firm's federal client group.

"Our strategic intent is to move increasingly into our clients' mission space," she said. "We've done a decent amount of work in the past in mission support and some mission areas, but as we look at what the government needs, it's clear that the opportunity for us is in mission space."

Health care represents about 29 percent of the federal budget, Mascolo said. The VA has a mission that grows daily with a war in progress. DOD budget cuts will force officials to find increasingly creative ways to get the most benefit from shrinking resources, she said.

The US-VISIT win gives the company a platform on which to build additional business, Mascolo said.

"It's a huge deal for us, both within my federal business and also outside," she said. "We've had calls from agencies across the globe that are looking to do their version of US-VISIT."

Accenture officials are also trying to prove that they are flexible and fast, Mascolo said.

"I think we have been pretty agile," she said. "One of the things we've been known for, even on the large programs, is being able to ramp up. While we don't have a bench of 400 people waiting to be called upon, we don't like to hire off the street in droves. The firm has been very responsive to us in government, and particularly" in the federal arena.

Rohleder, who left the federal division behind last summer, said he tried to leave the government group in good shape. Accenture had only a small federal presence before Rohleder took over in 1995, he said. He set out a strategy focusing on transferring commercial best practices to the government group. He started small with subcontracts to prove the company's effectiveness in the federal marketplace.

"One of my firm beliefs is that you

really create the markets that you work in," Rohleder said.

Jim Flyzik, a partner at Guerra, Kiviat, Flyzik and Associates, said US-VISIT's visibility cuts both ways. Accenture "took a big risk with US-VISIT because it is so visible," he said. "If they have problems, they'll become known around town."

On the other hand, "if US-VISIT proves to be extremely successful, they'll have a positive, referenceable account," he said. n

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