Government watchdogs reject Equifax appeal on IRS contract

3:50 p.m Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 Business

Government watchdogs have rejected an Equifax appeal of last week’s decision by the IRS to take away a $7.25 million contract from the embattled Atlanta company.

According to a report in Politico, the Government Accountability Office on Monday denied a protest filed by Equifax, which had hoped to hold on to a contract to provide help to the Internal Revenue Service.

That contract was to provide assistance in preventing identity theft. Announcement of the contract came – somewhat awkwardly – the same week as testimony before Congress concerning a massive data breach suffered by Equifax.

The IRS, which had been roundly criticized for awarding the contract to Equifax, last week announced it was taking the contract away from the company.

The GAO conducted a review and concluded that the IRS was justified in shifting the one-year agreement to Experian, Politico reported.

Equifax, which in September had admitted that data for 145 million Americans had been stolen from its system, argued to the GAO that Experian did not have the skills to provide the IRS with security advice.

The deal with Experian, however, is worth less than $1 million, Politico said. That is much smaller than the payment would have been to Equifax and Politico said the government did not explain the contrast in amounts.

And while contract amount was modest compared to Equifax’ $3.4 billion-a-year business, it was a black eye for the company’s already-bruised corporate image.

There was other bad news last week, including reports that the huge Equifax breach included data on 10.9 million driver’s licenses.

Two days after that came word that an Equifax customer service site the target of an attempted hack. The company took it down and said that the manipulation of its web page was done via a “third party.”

On Friday, the IRS suspended the $7.25 million Equifax contract, citing ‘new information — an apparent reference to the previous manipulation.

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