Time to outsource Tulsa's IT department?

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Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton has posted a lengthy e-mail from an employee in the City of Tulsa's Information Technology Department responding to the concerns of several councilors that the department is overpaid and overstaffed. Click the link to read the whole thing, but here's the heart of the matter -- private-sector incentives for excellence don't work in a unionized environment where seniority trumps performance:

When I first started working at the City I was pleasantly surprised at the number of talented and dedicated I/T employees. At the same time I was dumbfounded at the number of employees, especially employees with a significant number of years with the City, that barely, or rarely met their job requirements. In over five years I have yet to see a project completed by its deadline. I have also yet to see consequences for not meeting a project deadline. The culture in the I/T department is no reward for exceptional work and no punishment for substandard work. The dedicated I/T employees are making things happen solely from a sense of duty and satisfaction from a job well done. At the end of the day everyone gets the same pay raise, no pay raise or same pay cut regardless of their effort. The list of I/T employees that could be let go without loss of service to customers is long. Unfortunately if there were layoffs those are the employees that would stay.

IT may be about the easiest government function to outsource. There are plenty of hungry application programmers, software toolsmiths, web designers, and number crunchers who would compete to do work for the city. The city would still need strategic planners and analysts to determine what IT work is needed, to define requirements, and to write specifications, acting as interpreters between the non-IT folk in city government and the IT contractors. And the city would need program managers to oversee and validate the work done by outside contractors. While there are overheads involved in soliciting bids and overseeing contracts, I still suspect there could be some substantial savings. It's worth a look.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 12, 2010 6:38 AM.

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