Scant data on overseas outsourcing

GAO report: "Offshoring of Services: An overview of issues"

A congressional watchdog agency says more research is needed to understand the economic and national security risks of sending software development and other service work overseas.

"No federal data series directly measures the extent of offshoring or its effects," according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report states that the growing practice of offshoring -- sending service work overseas -- has captured lawmakers' attention, but the federal data needed to make informed decisions is largely lacking.

Almost no federal data exists to help the public debate about the impact of offshoring services on the U.S. economy, the workforce, consumer privacy or national security, GAO auditors found.

They conducted the study, "Offshoring of Services: An Overview of the Issues," from May 2004 to November 2005 at the request of GAO's controller general.

The study found few explicit restrictions on the type of service work that can be sent overseas. The Defense Department, for example, does not require managers of major weapon systems programs to identify or manage potential security risks from foreign suppliers.

DOD recommends but does not require program managers to review computer code from foreign sources that DOD or its contractors do not directly control. DOD program managers cannot always identify foreign-developed software in their systems, GAO found.

The auditors interviewed a variety of experts who had mixed feelings about the effect of offshoring on critical infrastructure, such as utilities and communications networks, or its impact on the privacy and security of consumers' financial and medical information.

Public debate about offshoring yields widely differing views because it is a relatively recent phenomenon and people have divergent expectations about its impact, the study found.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.