by Beth Bacheldor

Ban Offshoring By Order of Executive

Opinion
Sep 17, 2010
Enterprise Applications

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued an order that bans the state government from spending any public funds on offshore services.

Okay, I can hear the cheers now. This is good, right? Stop our tax dollars from being sent overseas to fatten the wallets of foreign companies. But in the age of this economy, shouldn’t our local, state and federal leaders look for the most cost-effective solutions? Shouldn’t they be prudent, money-wise shoppers? What if the most cost-effective solution for a service comes from India?

Isn’t that why so many shoppers go to Wal-Mart now instead of the local, mom-and-pop grocer? Goods are so much cheaper there, and quality isn’t really sacrificed (so I’m told). Isn’t that why so many products are made somewhere else, and we as consumers buy them up (they’re cheap and good, and our budgets beckon us to…) with little thought as to the textile workers or electronics manufacturers here who no longer have jobs?

To get things rolling, let’s set this up. Gov. Strickland issued the executive order in August. To be fair, the executive order comes on the heels of a l-o-o-o-n-n-g and painful recession that may or may not even be over. And state governments everywhere are struggling under the weight of local economies gone bone-dry, slim budgets, high unemployment, and more.I honestly believe Gov. Strickland’s heart is in the right place… he truly wants to help create jobs in his home state, and giving up a government job to another country isn’t going to help that. A state government that will ship jobs overseas may also be less attractive to new businesses setting up shop in Ohio, he asserts. And then there’s the issue of service delivery problems (perhaps he didn’t hear about IBM’s outsourcing troubles with the state governments of Texas and Indiana) and data security problems and privacy risks. Anyway, the executive order makes its case.

But as I mentioned, so many states are struggling with budgets. Ohio’s no exception. The Buckeye State is staring down an $8 billion budget shortfall for next year. $8 billion. So there’s going to have to be some mighty creative and prudent and penny-wise and tough legislators working together to fill up that hole. It’ll take every kind of budgeting tool available: cuts, increased revenues, savings, incentives, etc.

So then, shouldn’t the option to offshore be an option (okay, a last resort)? I mean, is a ban the right thing to do? A BAN? Really? If I’m an Ohio state CIO, and I can cut 25% of the costs out of the development of a new vehicle registration system by hiring a third-party based elsewhere in the world, and the contract covers extensive data and privacy security mechanisms and SLAs backed by reputation, shouldn’t I be able to pursue that option?

I think so.