House member seeks to nix $10 billion border security contract

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., wants to cancel US-VISIT contract awarded to Bermuda-based Accenture.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., wants to nix a potentially $10 billion contract to Bermuda-based Accenture Ltd., recently awarded by the Homeland Security Department to bolster border security.

"It is outrageous and it is wrong to reward these companies for abandoning our country -- particularly from the very department charged with safeguarding our homeland security as we work to pay for the ongoing war on terrorism," DeLauro said Tuesday.

She plans to offer her amendment Wednesday when the House Appropriations Committee marks up the fiscal 2005 homeland security appropriations bill.

Accenture won the contract last week over two other domestic bidders -- Lockheed Martin, which is based in Maryland, and Computer Sciences Corp., located in California. The contract is for the department's so-called US-VISIT program to track foreign visitors entering and exiting the country.

DeLauro's amendment also includes language to close loopholes allowing the department to contract with off-shore companies.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter Tuesday afternoon to Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., opposing the amendment, arguing Accenture pays U.S. taxes and under the contract must employee U.S. workers.

The Chamber said it also opposes a potential amendment by Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., to improve screening efforts of cargo on passenger aircraft within 180 days of enacting the bill.

"The Obey amendment would call for the imposition of an air cargo security fee to implement this proposed mandate," wrote the Chamber. "Now is not the time to force a mandate on the air cargo industry that would adversely affect the business community."