Lawmakers pass third contracting bill despite possible veto

Source: By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press (CT), March 2, 2006, 1:30 AM EST

HARTFORD, Conn. — Despite a threatened veto by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a major contracting reform bill Wednesday for the third time. Democrats said the bill creates clear standards to guide the process for all state contracts in the wake of a corruption scandal that besieged former Gov. John G. Rowland’s administration. But Republicans said part of the bill goes too far, making it nearly impossible for Rell to outsource state services.

Human services savings fall short of expectations

Source: Associated Press (TX), 03/01/2006

The reorganization of Texas’ health and human services system saved the state about $962 million over the past two years, nearly $173 million less than expected, officials said Wednesday. The massive overhaul approved by the Legislature in 2003 was supposed to save Texas $1.1 billion by August 2005, according to a fiscal analysis given to lawmakers three years ago. ….. The state also expected to save nearly $35 million through the implementation of a new eligibility system and the opening of call centers around the state, he said. Because the project was delayed, nothing was saved in 2004 and 2005, but Hawkins said he expects significant savings this year and in the future. …. The commission is replacing 99 of its 310 eligibility offices with four call centers run by Accenture, a technology consulting firm. It hired another company to take over its payroll and human resources operations.

Accenture's work for Texas agency worries senator

Source: By POLLY ROSS HUGHES, Houston Chronicle (TX), March 1, 2006, 11:25PM

AUSTIN – A state senator who is also a family physician raised questions Wednesday about the state’s privately contracted call centers that are supposed to screen applicants for social services statewide by the end of this year. Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, asked Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins how he remains confident in the giant out- sourcing firm Accenture in the face of ongoing computer-compatibility problems. ….. The call-center system will eventually spread statewide and has been widely criticized by state workers losing their jobs to privatization and scrutinized by social services advocates who worry that clients will be hurt by a privately run system.

Report: State and local outsourcing to grow 75 percent by 2010

Source: By Ethan Butterfield, Washington Technology, 01/24/06

Spurred by the need to replace outdated systems and to offset anticipated future government IT workforce shortages, state and local governments are expected to increase their spending on IT outsourcing from $10 billion in fiscal 2005 to $18 billion by fiscal 2010, according to a report released today by market research firm Input. Aging IT systems and the nearing-retirement-age workforce will be major factors that drive growth as much as 75 percent over the next five years, according to Input Inc., Reston, Va.

Northrop Grumman wins $667 million San Diego County outsourcing deal

Source: By Ethan Butterfield, Washington Technology, 01/25/06

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted this week to finalize a seven-year, $667 million contract for Northrop Grumman Corp. to take over the county’s IT and telecommunications operations. Northrop Grumman replaces Computer Science Corp. as the incumbent contractor on the project. Terms of the contract call for Northrop Grumman IT of McLean, Va., to oversee San Diego County’s data center, help desk, desktop, network, applications and cross-functional IT and telecommunications services.

Council to weigh in on outsourcing some jobs

Source: By Jennifer Vigil, San Diego Union Tribune (CA), February 27, 2006

Outsourcing has become a buzzword in cash-strapped San Diego. …… A form of it – managed competition, which would pit public employees against private firms – has become a key piece of what Mayor Jerry Sanders calls his “reform agenda at City Hall,” portions of which will be reviewed by the City Council at 2 p.m. today. A city street-repair program hints at what managed competition in San Diego could be like. The task fell to contracted crews two years ago, when 16 city employees were laid off. It later was found that the costs of paying private firms to do the work could exceed those generated by city employees by $1.9 million. ….. Joan Raymond, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 127, which would represent the workers, said some city divisions already have programs in place to ensure their costs are in line with industry standards.

Walter Reed contract appealed

Source: By Tarron Lively, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, March 1, 2006

Lawmakers and military officials are calling for an investigation into a $120 million contract at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that will replace hundreds of federal union workers. “The majority of these employees are veterans themselves,” said Dwight R. Bowman of the American Federation of Government Employees. A Government Accountability Office ruling Feb. 21 upholds the Army’s contract award to IAP Worldwide Services, although the Army initially determined that using federal, in-house employees would be most feasible. ….. IAP originally lost the bid in September 2004 after the Army determined that using federal employees would be less expensive than using employees from the company, then known as Johnson Controls.

Maintenance woes proving hard to fix

Source: By KELLY MELHART, STAR-TELEGRAM (TX), Wed, Mar. 01, 2006

Managing the Keller school district’s maintenance department is proving to be difficult, expensive and a source of frustration for some trustees and administrators. In September, trustees fired the district’s maintenance contractor, Aramark School Services, after learning of missing records, broken equipment and financial mismanagement. Now a new company that trustees hired to move the maintenance department under district control says it expects the district to pay $285,170, almost twice as much as the $164,000 that the company and district officials originally agreed to. ….. Trustees learned of the cost overruns Feb. 10 in an informal report. The overruns were never mentioned in periodic maintenance reports that were shared with the school board. According to the original contract, The School Business Group was to receive $84,000 for temporarily overseeing the maintenance department, which includes custodians, and grounds and maintenance workers.

Thousands more children uninsured

Source: By POLLY ROSS HUGHES, Houston Chronicle (TX), March 1, 2006, 12:40AM

AUSTIN – Enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program has plunged this year to 295,000, the lowest since 2001 when the program was in its infancy, health officials said Tuesday……. CHIP enrollment has dropped each month since December, the first full month since the state transferred a CHIP call-center contract to Texas Access Alliance, a consortium led by the giant private outsourcing firm Accenture. Managers of health plans offering the coverage characterize the CHIP declines as troubling, adding that state officials are updating them weekly on the trend. ….. Best and other social services organizations across Texas also said they’ve heard hundreds of complaints from families who report that they applied to CHIP but never heard back.

Charter school receives warning

Source: By BRIAN NEARING, Albany Times Union (NY), Tuesday, February 28, 2006

ALBANY — The oldest charter school in the city is in danger of losing its charter. On Monday a committee of the State University of New York board of trustees warned New Covenant Charter School that it will be placed on probation for being chronically tardy for filing annual audits. ….. It’s not the first problem for New Covenant, which was one of the first charter schools in New York when it opened in Arbor Hill in 1999. In 2004, the state forced the school to close its seventh and eighth grades, citing poor test scores and chaotic classrooms. …… “The audit was filed late,” said Laura Eshbaugh, executive vice president for communications for the New York City-based Edison Schools, a private company under contract to manage New Covenant and other charter schools in 25 states. “We are certainly sorry and are working with the school to make sure audits are filed timely in the future,” said Eshbaugh.