By Sharon Gaudin
September 20, 2007
The State of Connecticut is suing its own computer consultant,
Accenture, for losing personally identifying information on 58 residents
and hundreds of state bank accounts and purchasing cards.
Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal announced he is suing
the company for illegal negligence, unauthorized use of state property,
and breach of contract. He filed the suit on behalf of state comptroller
Nancy Wyman, whose office contracted with Accenture.
"Accenture deserves censure -- to be held accountable for allowing
valuable secret data to be stolen and putting at risk state taxpayers,
bank accounts, and purchasing cards," Blumenthal said in a statement.
"Accenture acted unconscionably and illegally. It breached its
commitment to keep confidential this highly sensitive financial
information. The company broke its contractual promises and duty of care
to safeguard the secrecy of sensitive data. It misappropriated state
property -- taking significant valuable data for its own use without
permission or authority."
Accenture released a statement saying the company is reviewing the
"Based on what we know today, we believe that our policies were
inadvertently not followed," the statement read. "We intend to take
appropriate actions with any individuals involved and to reinforce with
all of our employees, as we do on a regular basis, the importance of
following our privacy and data protection policies."
The company also asserted that there is no evidence that the Connecticut
data has been accessed or misused by an unauthorized third party.
"As the Ohio inspector general determined, the technical complexity of
retrieving the data from the backup tape storage device makes the
possibility that it will be used for improper purposes remote," the
company noted. "We invest heavily in training our employees so they
understand how to appropriately handle sensitive data and we impress on
them the importance of following our policies. Accenture regrets this
unfortunate incident, which was clearly caused by human error, and
remains committed to working with our client in this matter."
According to an advisory from the attorney general's office, the lawsuit
alleges that Accenture converted state property to its own use without
permission, acted negligently, and violated its contract by allowing the
sensitive data to be placed on a state of Ohio backup computer tape that
was later stolen. The theft occurred in June, but Wyman's office was not
notified that Connecticut information was involved until September 4.
The Ohio governor's office says a backup tape was stolen in Ohio last
June. It allegedly contained data that Accenture removed from the
CORE-CT computer system, which performs Connecticut's payroll,
personnel, purchasing, accounting, inventory, and other functions.
Accenture, which developed the CORE-CT system, was developing a similar
government information system in Ohio.
Allegedly, this past weekend a state IT analyst found the tape contained
virtually all Connecticut state agency bank account numbers, bank names,
and types of accounts, as well other highly sensitive information,
according to the governor's office. "Like a citizen whose wallet has
been stolen, our first priority had to be safeguarding the information
that was missing -- and that's just what we have done," said Connecticut
Governor M. Jodi Rell, in a statement yesterday. "Now we need to start
adding up the expenses we incurred in taking those actions and provide
those figures to the attorney general so that he can recover those costs
from Accenture. The repercussions of this loss are still being tallied
-- and the final figure may not become clear for some time -- but we
already know that Connecticut has incurred considerable expenses to deal
with the loss of this information."
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