Personal information may have been seen in India
By Bill Cotterell
DEMOCRAT POLITICAL EDITOR
The state warned employees Thursday that computer operators in India may have had access to their personnel records, and an angry legislator demanded that
Convergys produce all records showing when it learned of the illicit “offshoring” of sensitive data.
“Safeguarding your personal information is our highest priority,” said a “security update” issued by the Department of Management Services. It said state
agencies and DMS “will continue to work together to ensure that all state employee personal information remains secure and protected.”
The Tallahassee Democrat reported Dec. 25 that two former employees of GDXdata, a Denver subcontractor of Convergys, had sued their ex-employer – claiming
that sensitive personal data in Florida government personnel files was processed by companies in India, Barbados and possibly China. The suit did not allege
any wrongdoing by Convergys, which canceled its contract with GDXdata last August for unspecified “failure” to perform subcontracted work as required.
DMS Secretary Tom Lewis and Chris Emerick, vice president of operations for the Convergys Employee Care Division in Jacksonville, told a Senate oversight
committee for the first time on Wednesday that DMS investigators that GDXdata used one or more subcontractors in India.
Lewis said DMS wants a $5 million cash settlement from Convergys, which the company is resisting. Convergys has agreed to several other security steps –
including a one-year “credit protection program” for state employees with $50,000 insurance for any state worker whose bank or credit accounts are raided
by identity thieves.
Lewis repeated his presentation for a Senate budget committee on Thursday, emphasizing that no identity theft is known to have resulted in nearly two years
since the incident occurred.
He told a Senate budget committee on Thursday that the People First system – a $350 million, nine-year contract that is Gov. Jeb Bush’s biggest privatization
package – “was the right thing to do” for modernizing personnel services, despite its rocky three-year history. Lewis said he and the company agreed “to
continue our relationship,” despite the GDXdata flap.
GDXdata has denied violating its contract with Convergys.
“Based on the evidence today, the personnel records of employees who worked for the state any time between Jan. 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004, may have been
indexed overseas and therefore may be affected,” said the DMS security alert.
Lewis said about 108,000 state workers are potentially affected. He said it does not appear that employees of the Legislature, State University System,
courts and a few other agencies were affected because People First only handles their benefits – not payroll and personnel records.
“DMS will notify employees who are potentially affected by the end of next week,” he said.
Sen. Walter Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale, wrote to Emerick, demanding names, service locations and payment amounts of all subcontractors working on People
“This letter is to request copies of all correspondence, in written or electronic form, between Convergys and GDXdata leading to the termination of the
contract in August 2005, including any notification of confirmed or possible breaches and the specific reason(s) for that contract termination,” Campbell
He also noted that Lewis told the Senate committees that Convergys learned of possible contract violations with GDXdata last August but did not inform DMS
until about three weeks ago. Emerick disputed that in his Senate testimony Wednesday, saying the company informed the state soon after receiving an anonymous
letter about the India operations last summer.
Campbell asked, “Why was there no attempt to notify state employees that their personal information might be in jeopardy, as required by Florida law?”
Originally published March 17, 2006
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