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The New IT Thing

The problems are well documented. Northrup Grumman botched the upgrade to New York City’s 911 systems while billing the city $300,000 to $430,000 annually for each of their 137 consultants. A $132 million dollar contract to upgrade phones and internet services for municipal agencies in Orange County, CA is already $13 million over budget while municipal employees report repeated outages and failed solutions from the contractor, Xerox. And who can forget all those failed Obamacare exchange websites brought to us by mega-information technology contractors like CGI and Oracle?

For too long, local and state governments have turned over control of their critical digital infrastructure to companies claiming they could do the work cheaper and faster than public employees. But after the last few years of failures, cost overruns, and plain old shoddy work, local leaders are finally realizing that in this digital age, information technology is too important to be left in the hands of sometimes unscrupulous businesses who put making a profit ahead of getting the job done.

One of those leaders is Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, whose administration worked closely with leaders from AFSCME District Council 37 to improve city services and save taxpayers millions. A new “IT Insourcing” pact states the Big Apple will now “use city employees for IT work where it will achieve financial savings and improve service delivery, by reducing reliance on external IT consultants.” The city expects to save $3.6 million of taxpayer funds in 2015 alone, while the total savings could reach nearly $100 million over the next five years. All by letting public workers do their job to serve the public interest.

It’s become painfully clear that governments can no longer afford to simply buy the claims of corporations seeking a multi-million dollar contract. Claims of “cost-savings” and “efficiencies” must be properly evaluated and compared directly with the current provision of public services. Insourcing might just be the newest trend in IT services, and it is great news for taxpayers.