Following an agreement between the state workers’ union and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, a newly formed 10-person Budget Solutions Task Force will begin meeting August 1 to review state contracts, including IT vendor contracts, and make recommendations about which contracts should be eliminated.
Service Employees International Union Local 1000, the union representing state workers, negotiated terms for a side letter agreement that include a 4.62% pay cut and one required personal leave day per month, according to the SEIU Local 1000 website. As part of the agreement, a task force comprised of five SEIU representatives and five state government representatives will meet to review state contracts, said Marie Harder, a Department of Public Health employee and vice chair of the SEIU Local 1000 unit 1 bargaining unit negotiating committee.
The task force, termed the Budget Solutions Task Force by state government officials and the outsourcing taskforce by the SEIU Local 1000 website, will include representatives from the Department of General Services, the new CalHR department, and the Department of Finance, according to Harder.
“SEIU has been fighting the outsourcing of work that can be done by a state employee for over a decade,” Harder said. “Usually we have to challenge those contracts through the state personnel board.”
The new taskforce will review contacts, including IT contracts and non-IT contracts, that include the outsourcing of work that the union would prefer be done by state employees, according to Harder.
“We’ve worked a lot on the IT contracts in the past. There is an awful lot of work that is contracted out, and routinely its not because they think that contractors can do it better, its because they’ve always had contractors do it,” she said, adding that the money the union feels is wasted in these contracts is taking away from state worker pay checks and also from services for California residents.
“Why reduce our salaries if you’re expending excess money elsewhere?,” Harder said. “For example, while we’ve been furloughed in the past, most of the our contractors continued working for the same amount of money.”
The union would prefer that contractors consistently working for the state be employed by the state, she said.
Lynelle Jolley, communications director for the Department of Personnel Administration, soon to be the CalHR Department, said the issue of outside contracting has long been a touchy point with the unions. With the state departments issuing contracts believing that the work is best done by contractors or by contractors who work part-time and the union believing the work can be done by full time state workers, the taskforce will give everyone a chance to discuss contracts and make recommendations once per quarter.
As for the department’s that issue contracts reviewed by the committee, the role remains unclear until the first meeting takes place, Jolley said.
“Its possible that there will be concerns raised by the departments that have the contracts, and that’s part of what this task force will review, she said. “The meetings will also allow the opportunity for [taskforce members] to invite outside folks to come and participate.”
“I always think it’s important for organizations to review the current contracts and anticipated contracts and any kind of spending,” said former state CIO and Techleader.TV host John Thomas Flynn. “It’s just prudent. It certainly raises the antennae when the organizations that will be responsible with reviewing it have any kind of vested interest in the outcome. That goes both sides, both the union and the consulting side. This will be a very difficult task to do but frankly they should be looking at all these projects in many different respects.”
Under the yearlong agreement reached between the Governor’s office and the union last week, the taskforce will meet for one year and reassess its needs at that point, according to Jolley.