Orange County puts outsourcing agreement under microscope

California's Orange County plans to compare specific job classifications when it revisits a preliminary take on in-house versus outsourced labor costs for information technology services.

The county released a series of charts, dated April 11, that provide a comparison of the county's IT staffing cost and that of outsourcing contractor Affiliated Computer Services Inc. of Dallas.

Orange County's IT work is performed by 419 county employees and 184 ACS staffers, the county said. The cost comparison found little difference between county and contractor labor costs: ACS services came in at an average annual cost per employee of $119,500, while the figure for county employees was $120,223.

Orange Co.'s IT department undertook the cost comparison, with assistance from the county's auditor-controller department. The assessment took salary and benefits for IT staff members into account. But David Sundstrom, the county's auditor-controller, said the cost comparison didn't directly compare specific job classifications, such as programmers, architects and database administrators.

A subsequent look into labor costs will seek to provide a head-to-head comparison of job categories, Sundstrom said. "I think we can get some comparisons. I have asked for a more detailed assessment," he said.

As the exploration of labor rates continues, Sundstrom noted that cost is among many elements that factor into outsourcing. He cited the ability to obtain just-in-time IT resources as a key consideration.

"An advantage of our services is the flexibility our contract allows, and in fact, we've utilized that flexibility several times during the course of this contract," said Kevin Lightfoot, an ACS spokesman.

"ACS has been working closely with Orange County as their technology partner for several years, and we continue to focus on providing the county with the services necessary to help the government serve the needs of local residents," he said.

ACS of Dallas has about 58,000 employees and had annual sales of $5.3 billion in 2006. The company ranks No. 48 on Washington Technology's 2006 Top 100 list of the largest federal IT contractors. The 2007 Top 100 list is due out May 14.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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