MPs round on plans to offshore gov IT work
DWP bods to move from being employees to customers
MPs are cranking up the pressure on government to safeguard the jobs of up to 200 HP IT workers amid plans to outsource the positions to India.
Employees involved in the Adams 2 contract with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are in the process of training up a team from Bangalore which will ultimately replace them as part of a drive to cut the costs of the deal.
HP has already notified staff from Newcastle, Lytham and Sheffield of the plans – which first emerged last month – and entered into a consultation period with them.
The jobs are set to be transferred in August. However, North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon tabled an early day motion stating that the House had been "alarmed at the increased security risks of storing millions of live personal data files, including national insurance numbers, offshore".
The motion, signed by six other MPs from the region, also noted the "ethical implications" of cutting costs and raising the contract's profitability by exploiting lower paid overseas workers.
It added that any savings would be "exceeded by lost tax revenues and increased payment benefits... [and the House] notes that offshoring and in-shoring compromise the government's ambition to tackle the deficit through growing employment".
In an interview with regional paper Chronicle Live, Glindon said the government appeared keen to allow US tech monster HP to farm out local jobs.
"One of the issues is the loss of 200 jobs in Tyneside, but the other key issue is the security of sensitive information with confidential information, including NI numbers zipping back and forth between Britain and India."
Responding on behalf of the DWP, Chris Grayling, MP for Epson and Ewell, said DWP was still talking to HP about the Adams 2 contract with the results of the review "expected to conclude towards the end of the year".
"All aspects of security, including access to any data that may be required, will be part of this review. Proposed offshore activities need to gain a formal approval against stringent DWP, CESG – the Information assurance arm of GCHQ – and Cabinet Office requirements before being permitted." ®
Is it really cheaper?
I'm never entirely sure that these offshore deals are really cheaper when we are talking about public money.
For a basic example, a government deal costs £50m and employs 200 local workers. A large chunk of that £50m will go to pay those local workers, who pay income tax and national insurance. They then go on to buy things and do things which generate more tax in VAT, fuel duty and all those other various taxes. Therefore the total impact on the public purse is actually less than £50m
Now offshore that work and you may be paying £40m, a big saving on the face of it, but most of that money now leaves the country and is therefore "lost" to the local economy. Plus you could well be having to pay unemployment benefits to 200 local people. Therefore the deal from an overall view is actually more expensive.
Really government have to accept that they are not the private sector and that the "cost" of a deal for them is rarely as simple as which one has the cheapest headline price. It's far more complex than that.
But then that seems to be an unpopular view these days - each department only wants to look at the figure on their spreadsheet - everything in isolation.
They've got to be kidding.
You mean to tell me that after all the manic chaos and insanity that has come out in the form of GCSX requirements, that the government are actually going to be stupid enough to let this happen? All you have to do is type "india data breach" in to a search engine and sit back with a cup of tea for a good read.
This is shear stupidity on a massive scale that, only a UK government could let happen.
IT in the UK
This is a good example of UK middle management saying that UK IT is no good. What is there to aspire to when your job could be exported abroad in the blink of an eye?
How long until those middle management types have their jobs exported to India? It would be a cruel irony but I would enjoy the schadenfreude.