GAO finds most states offshore human services tech support

Most states offshore at least a portion of the IT work needed to operate federal human services programs for food stamps, child support enforcement, family assistance programs and unemployment insurance, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO found that "some work is performed offshore in the majority of states" for the four state-administered federal aid programs it reviewed?child support enforcement, food stamps, temporary assistance for needy families and unemployment insurance.

Offshoring occurred in one or more programs in 43 of 50 states and the District of Columbia, most frequently in the food stamp and temporary assistance programs, the GAO said.

Offshoring IT work for federal programs has been politically controversial in Congress, due to the perception of contributing to American economic and job losses and to privacy concerns.

Two states?New Jersey and Arizona?have prohibited offshoring in state contracts, GAO said.

State officials most frequently used offshore services for call centers and customer services, especially for food stamps and temporary assistance. For the child support enforcement and unemployment insurance programs, they used offshoring for software development, the GAO said.

India was the most popular offshoring destination, followed by Mexico.

State officials said they selected contracts with offshoring to reduce their costs, with some states showing a savings as high as 24 percent.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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