Accenture Federal puts 'scaffolding in place' to integrate Cognosante

Accenture Federal Services' CEO John Goodman describes what led the company to acquire Cognosante and the overall partnership approach.

Accenture Federal Services' CEO John Goodman describes what led the company to acquire Cognosante and the overall partnership approach. Courtesy of Accenture Federal Services.

Accenture Federal Services will use Cognosante as the foundation for a new health practice and continue leaning on commercial tech partnerships to drive innovation, CEO John Goodman tells us.

Accenture's U.S. federal subsidiary will follow a familiar playbook as it prepares to integrate Cognosante – approximately three years after the last major integration.

Accenture Federal Services is looking to add more scale to its health IT business by acquiring Cognosante.

“The key is that it has as much to do with the people as the contracts,” said John Goodman, CEO of Accenture Federal Services.

In acquiring Novetta, Accenture Federal added scale across the intelligence community and stood up a new separate national security line of business under former Novetta CEO Tiffanny Gates.

Goodman said that Accenture Federal will do the same thing with Cognosante, but focused on health.

Accenture Federal's health business has been distributed around its defense and civilian practices. The company will now stand up a new practice led by Cognosante President Eliot Harris that will consolidate the entire health business under one umbrella.

Because the acquisition hasn't closed yet, interactions between both companies are limited and the details are still being worked out.

“We are putting the scaffolding in place and we’ll finish building it out when the deal closes,” Goodman said.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, but Goodman said Accenture Federal expects it to close in 30 days after all of the usual regulatory requirements are met.

Accenture Federal will add about 1,400 new employees to its workforce, which stood at 13,000 people as of our 2023 Top 100 report.

Goodman said there were three key factors that Accenture Federal saw in Cognosante:

  • Focus on customer success
  • An entrepreneurial culture
  • Complementary customers

“We share a lot of customers like Veterans Affairs, [the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare] and, but we are doing different things for them,” he said.

But the acquisition of Cognosante is just one part of the strategy Accenture Federal has in place. A second aspect is the company’s emphasis on partnerships and alliances with commercial technology companies.

Goodman traces that leg of the strategy back to the parent Accenture organization, which has a long history of commercial alliances such as its pact with Google formed more than a decade ago.

In the federal market, the partnership between Google and Accenture has resulted in the creation of a cybersecurity center of excellence in 2023 that leans on Google’s Mandiant business. More recently, the companies formed a data and artificial intelligence center of excellence.

The centers are part of Accenture Federal’s strategy to use a combination of technology and human ingenuity to get better results for customers, said Ira Entis, Accenture Federal’s chief strategy officer.

While the Google partnership has grabbed recent headlines, Accenture Federal also works closes with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The customer chooses which cloud it prefers depending on the mission.

“Clients are more focused on their missions and outcomes than they are on a particular technology,” Entis said.

At the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Accenture Federal is applying AI tools to modernize how USPTO employees process patent applications under a $70 million contract.

Since 2022, the company has been leading cloud migration efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a $189 million contract.

In April, Accenture Federal secured a $789 million contract with the Navy to support cybersecurity operations as part of the service branch's SHARKCAGE program.

The Navy started SHARKCAGE to create a new IT environment for sensing, detecting and analyzing activity across the Navy’s networks, including afloat environments.

Accenture Federal sees those three projects as leading indicators of what is driving growth in the market.

“We’ll continue to see rapid changes in the market over the next 18 months, particularly because of generative AI, which has great potential,” Goodman said.