Connecticut legislature avoids computer privatization

The Connecticut state legislature wrapped up its 1999 session last week without taking up any of a smattering of procedural bills pending on the state's $1 billion deal to privatize its computer operations.

The bills were mostly related to deadlines that the Connecticut General Assembly will have to meet in evaluating a contract between the state's Department of Information Technology and Electronic Data Systems Corp.

House Speaker Moira Lyons reportedly did not feel pressed to take up the bills, particularly because contract negotiations between EDS and the department have not concluded. Among other things to tie up, the negotiators have yet to obtain approvals from federal agencies that govern programs that might be affected by the deal, sources said.

The Connecticut contract has been one of the most coveted and closely watched government technology outsourcing jobs ever, particularly as it is the first of its kind among state or local governments and has the potential to set the pace for similar privatization efforts.

But politics, as well as outraged state employee groups, have been nipping at the heels of the deal since it was announced earlier this year.

Should a final award materialize, the Connecticut General Assembly will have the last word on the state government's selection of EDS.

After state 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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