In Florida, Data Breach, Offshore Outsourcing, CYA Collide

Opinion: The state of Florida is in a political pickle, so it takes offshore outsourcing and combines it with identity fraud. What's really going on here?

Governments never cease to amaze, and Florida is writing the handbook on how to spin a technology hot potato with more bad spin. Heres the formula: Take offshore outsourcing, add just a dash of potential identity theft and toss in the urge to cover your backside (CYA) to create one strange brew.

The state of Florida notified 108,000 former and current employees that their files have been improperly sent offshore. The crime: Florida didnt know data was being sent offshore because its subcontractor had a subcontractor that went overseas.

Lets read between the lines of Floridas warning to its current and former employees March 16:

On February 3, 2006, the Department of Management Services (DMS) notified state employees that it was investigating allegations that GDXdata/Document Imaging—a U.S. company under subcontract with Convergys/People First!—may have offshored some of the work that Convergys hired it to do.

OK, so to this point all we know is that Florida cant keep tabs on its vendors vendors. At last check, offshoring wasnt illegal.

DMS has since uncovered evidence that GDXdata used two or more subcontractors in India to "index" personnel files. To date, DMS has received no reports of identity theft as a result of the offshore work.

This is the first reference of offshoring and identity theft. Does one lead to another? Sure sounds it, but lets not jump the data breach gun.

Tiffany Koenigkramer, a spokesperson for Floridas department of Management Services, denied that a data breach had occurred.

"There has been no ID theft and no credit fraud," she told eWEEKs Stan Gibson.

So why mention the two together? Hmmm. Lets read on.

The offshore work was completed almost two years ago (June 2004). Since June 2004, all indexing of state employee personnel records has been handled in Florida, in Convergys facilities. "Indexing" is the electronic labeling and filing of scanned documents. The "scanning" of personnel files, then and now, has been handled in Florida, in agency and Convergys facilities. The purpose of the scanning/indexing project is to eventually eliminate paper personnel files and to provide state employees secure, electronic access to their personnel records through People First!. Convergys has cooperated in the DMS investigation.

Translation: DMS realized nearly two years ago that its offshoring of personnel records wasnt such a great political move.

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It moved processing back to Florida and launched an investigation to deflect a barrage of criticism from unions and politicos looking for points.

"Convergys and the state of Florida have a contract. There was a subcontract was between GDX and Convergys," said Koenigkramer.

Next Page: Subcontracting.