Tech workers' union seeks hold on outsourcing proposal

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 3, 2010

CHARLESTON – The union representing state technology workers is seeking an injunction prohibiting the state from outsourcing technology jobs until a required cost-benefit analysis is performed.

West Virginia Public Workers UE Local 170, and its field organizer, Gordon Simmons, filed suit in Kanawha Circuit Court on Aug. 30 a writ of mandamus against the state Department of Administration's Office of Technology, and Kyle Shafer, the state's chief technology officer. In their writ, UE Local 170 and Simmons allege Shafer has not complied with legislative mandates regarding how wisely state agencies are spending money on computer technology.

According to the suit, the state Legislature in 2005 created the Office of Technology with the Department of Administration that would be overseen by a chief technology officer. Among the CTO's responsibilities was development of "a comprehensive, statewide, four-year strategic information technology and technical infrastructure policy and development plan" to be submitted to the governor, and the legislature's Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

The initial four-year plan was to be drafted by Dec. 1, 2006, with a final version submitted by June 30, 2007. According to the suit, that never happened.

Also, UE Local 170 and Simmons maintain the law creating OT stipulated the CTO submit a biannual report of its activities to the Joint Committee. In the five years since OT's creation, that hasn't happened either.

In the writ, UE Local 170 and Simmons say they became concerned following proposals announced on Aug. 12 by the Department of Administration to outsource work to the private sector. UE Local 170 and Simmons say any proposals should be put on hold until OT has first fulfilled its mandate under state law to draft a four-year plan.

Along with an order staying the OT from soliciting bids for outsourcing, UE Local 170 and Simmons seek reimbursement of court costs and attorney fees in filing their suit. They are represented by Kevin Baker with the Charleston law firm of Baker and Brown.

The case is assigned to Judge Tod Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 10-MISC-394

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