Connecticut Rep. Questions EDS Deal

Connecticut Speaker of the House Moira Lyons (D) recently sent a laundry list of questions about the state's billion-dollar deal now pending with Electronic Data Systems Corp. Among Lyons' concerns are cost savings, privacy, contractor past performance and payment issues associated with the deal.

"I share the concerns of many members of my caucus regarding plans to privatize the state's computer systems," said Lyons' in a March 16 letter to state chief information officer Rock Regan.

The letter moves through several overarching issues, demanding from Connecticut's Department of Information Technology (DOIT) justification for the outsourcing plans. "I know one of the main objectives behind the privatization initiative is reducing the state's information technology costs. This goal is commendable. I have not, however, found any details on how these savings will occur. Please explain in depth how and when these savings will be realized," the letter says.

Lyons put questions to Regan on how public privacy will be guarded when contractor EDS assumes responsibility for systems. "Another issue of importance to many members of my caucus relates to privacy protections for information that is transferred to the vendor. What protections are being established to ensure that the vendor, its partners and any subcontractors will strictly adhere to both contractual and statutory privacy requirements?" the letter asks.

Regan said he does not view the legislator's interest as a roadblock to completing negotiations with EDS. "We view the letter as favorable since it indicates the legislature's interest. The questions are good ones that we will have to address in finalizing the contract anyway, and we've had a good dialogue going with the speaker's office," he said.

Rick Melita, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Employees Association, put a different spin on the letter. "The deal was rushed through quickly with very little legislative oversight. Now there are problems cropping up," most relating to rising costs, he said.

The Connecticut General Assembly will give the final word on the state government's selection of EDS. DOIT tapped EDS in the waning days of 1998 and is supposed to be nearing the end of negotiations, although Regan declined to say when that process would end. After the negotiations with EDS are complete, a 75-day audit of the contract will be conducted. The assembly then will vote on the outsourcing proposal and could reject the award if three-fifths of the members vote against it.

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