Panel: Motives of outsourcing companies called into question

A union official who accused the private sector of conducting outsourcing solely for the sake of profit drew fire from both government and industry officials at a conference this week for state chief information officers.

Margarita Maldonado, chair of the IT Committee of the Service Employees International Union Local 1000 in California, took a direct shot at Unisys Corp. during a panel at the National Association of State CIOs' annual conference in San Diego.

"Unisys has a horrible record of corruption over the last 15 years," Maldonado said, drawing murmurs from the crowd, roughly two-thirds of which consisted of industry executives.

Other companies also have suffered through ethical lapses, corruption and bribery, she said, conceding that she had not heard of any problems with Unisys recently. Unisys and other companies that provide IT outsourcing services care for profits, while civil service employees care about the quality of services, she said.

Greg Baroni, president of Unisys' Global Public Sector at Unisys who also participated in the panel, immediately fired back, saying that Unisys has a history of ethical conduct and that any employees found to have had questionable dealings had been punished. Baroni said that there are as many examples of bad conduct by civil servants as by corporations.

Baroni also said that private sector companies attract the "best and brightest," while less driven workers are attracted to government work, where they can have "work-life balance."

Panelist Daniel Wall, commissioner of the New York Department of Civil Service, said civil service laws were not created for speed or flexibility in hiring.

Nothing insults civil servants more than outsourcing, he said. But there needs to be a move away from trying to protect all jobs at all costs to focusing on customer service, Wall said.

Panelist Peter Quinn, CIO for Massachusetts, advocated demolishing all unions, saying that current labor laws protect government workers adequately, and that unions are an impediment to progress.

"The whole thing ought to be completely blown up, it has no place in today's society," Quinn said. "If you are a solid worker you lose your dues to malcontents and on union leaders' political agendas."

Quinn went further, saying that unions must stop defending poor performance and must train and recruit younger workers instead of protecting the jobs of older employees.

New York CIO Jim Dillon, who moderated the panel on outsourcing, asked participants whether security was a concern when deciding to outsource.

Baroni said it was, but that private companies understand that.

"In the end, we understand it's a very real concern, and we're all stepping up to the accountability that goes along with that," he sai

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