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Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

I think having someone on-site on behalf of the state of Florida, (or whoever ends up negotiating with these outsourcing companies), is a good idea.
Everyone knows the companies with whom the state is contracting aren’t going to make sure to look out for the state’s best interests.
But more than that, they’ll try to keep the state from getting their rightful piece of the pie.
I wonder how all of this will effect those actually doing the call center work.
Probably not favorably.
But after all, we’re the ones to take the hit anyway, so why should things change now?

By Bill Cotterell
DEMOCRAT POLITICAL EDITOR

Stung by three years of state-personnel headaches in Gov. Jeb Bush’s biggest privatization project, a Senate committee voted Wednesday to make state agencies
spell out a no-nonsense business model proving that future “outsourcing” plans really will be cheaper and better.

Department of Management Services Secretary Tom Lewis, who encouraged the governor’s veto of last year’s attempt at strengthening legislative oversight
of contracting for services, enthusiastically endorsed the new bill. Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said earlier in the day the state needs to build
up some negotiating expertise that can match the professional lawyers and sales executives that big businesses bring to the bargaining table.
The Senate Governmental Oversight and Productivity Committee has been hearing horror stories about Convergys, the multinational giant that has the state’s
nine-year, $350 million contract for state personnel services. Last week, Lewis confirmed to the panel that a former Convergys subcontractor allowed companies
in India to process some employee personnel records, and DMS is now seeking $5 million in compensation and penalties for the forbidden “off-shoring” of
sensitive employee data.

“Had the business plan that we have in this bill been in place, we probably wouldn’t be in the position that we’re in today,” said Sen. Nancy Argenziano,
R-Dunnellon, who chairs the committee.

Her bill (SB 2518) would require state agencies to develop a detailed business plan for privatization projects costing more than $1 million. A “council
on effective government” would be created in DMS to evaluate plans and advise agencies on what works – and what to avoid – in contracting.

For contracts of more than $10 million, the bill would require the effectiveness council to evaluate plans before agencies seek bids. And those big deals
would have to be run past the council, the Legislature and the governor’s office before being signed.

DMS would also certify state negotiators, who would be used for any contract worth more than $1 million. For $10 million contracts, one negotiator would
have to be a certified project-management professional.

Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, hailed an amendment added to the bill in committee, requiring that one of the options contained in every business plan must
be an evaluation of keeping state employees on the job. A business model might lay out several different approaches to contracting for services, but one
of them would have to be not privatizing work.

“That’s a good amendment,” Lawson said.

Bush last year vetoed a similar bill that he said infringed on executive authority. It called for greater legislative oversight of contracting by state
agencies.

Lawson and Argenziano, whose Big Bend and Panhandle districts are home to tens of thousands of state employees, praised Lewis for working out compromises
that they said will strengthen the state’s bargaining position in big contracts.

“It will increase the transparency of the process, it will increase the accountability of the process, it will increase and strengthen the state’s ability
to be a strong contracting party,” Lewis said.

Lewis said his endorsement doesn’t mean Bush won’t veto the new bill – but that the governor’s budget office was involved with DMS and the Senate committee
in working out the compromise.


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