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What I Think About IT Outsourcing

When I first heard that the County Board of Supervisors was planning on outsourcing our Information Technology I was horrified. I believe the person who controls the information flow controls the decisions.  Why give control of such an important function over to strangers?drain.jpg (7653 bytes)

We're told not to worry, that the County will oversee the project. I've seen some other County outsourcing projects. Let's take our janitorial services. Here is an unretouched photo of a drain in the ladys' restroom in our building. I took the photo in 1998 because I wanted to complain about the poor job the current janitors were doing. We are on the third contractor since this photo, and if anything, the drain is more clogged.

If the County can't contract janitorial services, how are they going to manage something much more complex?
I am told that when our janitorial services were done by County employees, things were actually clean!

If you think the information on the Information Technology Outsourcing, on the County Web Page, looks good, here are some things you might want to think about:
How is the selected vendor going to make a profit? Just based on what I have been able to find out about other outsourcing projects, I would guess that they are going to pay most of their workforce less than County wage, and limit benefits. Fine, you say, but just think -- who are these employees going to be? Some of them may be your customers, wouldn't you like them to have money to spend? Some of them may be your relatives, wouldn't you like them to earn enough money so that they quit sponging off you?
Security concerns. Most of the information on County computers is public information: Tax records, dog licenses, business licenses, voters registration. Other County computers have access to Medi-Cal, EDD, and Social Security Information. Already, the County sells voter registration information. What is to keep a vendor from selling public information to "profilers", who will bundle your property tax information with the information on your grocery-shopping habits that the other vendor sold them?
Why Can't The County Do It? I've heard that you shouldn't outsource your problems. Why isn't the County doing a good job now, and what makes anyone think that having someone else, one further step removed, do the job is going to improve things? Don't judge the County's "wiredness" by its web pages. Did you know there are offices in the County of San Diego that still keep their records on 3x5 cards? Where I work, we use "dumb" terminals programmed in some archaic language that nobody seems to be able to understand. No one seems to be able to do simple fixes and we have to deal with things like documents coming out labelled "1 of 2,"" 2 of 2,"  and "3 of 2."

 

 

The small print: The drain grid is only part of the system. Sometimes we have small gnat-like creatures that provide floorshows while we are ....occupied. I believe they come up the drain. There is no use cleaning the mouth of the drain if you don't clean what lies beneath it.

To be continued:  Next: "Why It May Be Too Late To Change The IT Outsourcing." "How the County starved IT", and "What Makes Me Think That The Board of Supervisors and Some Top Managers Are Clueless About Computers."

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