By Bill Cotterell
DEMOCRAT POLITICAL EDITOR
The head of the Department of Management Services told a Senate committee today that sensitive state employee personnel records were sent to India for computer
processing, in violation of the state’s People First contract with Convergys.
DMS Secretary Tom Lewis told Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon, that the state should seek $5 million from Convergys for an outside audit of its dealings
with subcontractors and improvements in the privatized personnel system. He said the company has not agreed to that but has cooperated in a multi-agency
state and federal investigation that turned up “compelling evidence” that state personnel records were sent overseas.
Lewis said there was no evidence of identity theft occurring from the process, which he said involved active employees between January 2003 and June 30,
2004. He said Convergys has agreed to provide identity theft insurance up to $50,000 per employee, in case any bogus credit accounts are opened by thieves
using Social Security numbers or other data filched from electronic files.
Convergys will also set up a one-year “credit protection program” that will electronically notify the state if anyone tries to open an account or tap into
financial records of employees whose records were allegedly sent overseas for processing, he said.
Lewis said he had no evidence that Convergys was aware that a former subcontractor had sent records to India for cheaper indexing. But he said he is convinced
that Convergys executives learned about the “off-shoring” by GDXdata, a Denver subcontractor, and did not inform the state for months.
Two former GDXdata employees filed suit against their ex-employer last year in Leon County Circuit Court, alleging that the subcontractor improperly sent
Florida personnel data to companies in India and Barbados, and possibly China, for processing.
Lewis said there is no criminal investigation of Convergys or GDXdata. He said the Office of Statewide Prosectution, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
and federal authorities were called in because of the multi-state and international nature of the inquiry.
He also said all employees will be notified of findings of his investigation, so they can check their records for any unusual financial activities.
Argenziano, who heads the Senate Governmental Oversight and Productivity Committee, commended Lewis for ramrodding the investigation. She and her committee
have been highly critical of People First and Convergys, as well as state “outsourcing” of employee jobs for several years.
Lewis also said he is writing contract improvements into the Convergys deal – a nine-year, $350 million pact that is Gov. Jeb Bush’s biggest privatization
project. The contract provisions will call for reassignment of the Convergys operations-program manager, appointment of a security manager for the company
to work with the DMS security chief on People First and state authority to approve Convergys subcontractors.
Lewis said he also wants subcontractors to be held to the same requirements of employee background checks that Convergys applies to People First workers.
Originally published March 15, 2006
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