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5/11/2012
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Lawmaker Seeks Ban On USAID-Backed Outsourcing

Proposal by U.S. Congressman Tim Bishop would bar agency from funding programs that train overseas students in the Philippines and other countries to work for outsourcing companies offshore.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY) has added language to an appropriations bill to prohibit the United States Agency for International Development from continuing controversial programs, first reported by InformationWeek, that use U.S. funds to train workers in developing nations for jobs in the offshore outsourcing industry.

Bishop said those jobs pose a threat to U.S. workers as they involve work that could be done domestically. "Outsourcing is a job killer, and this explicit prohibition on any aid program that makes it easier to send American jobs overseas is long overdue," said Bishop, in a statement Thursday. "I made the case to the appropriations committee that this language was necessary to ensure once and for all that American taxpayers are not supporting outsourcing."

Under section 7028 of the FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, USAID would be barred from providing funds to any U.S. business that plans to move jobs overseas. It would also forbid the agency from funding training programs that prepare foreign workers for jobs at outsourcing companies.

InformationWeek first reported in 2010 that USAID was spending $10 million to fund a program to train students in Sri Lanka for IT outsourcing jobs.

In April, InformationWeek reported on a similar USAID program to train students in the Philippines to work in that country's burgeoning offshore call center industry. The program, known as JEEP (Job Enabling English Proficiency) was part of a $100 million USAID economic development program for the Mindanao region of the Philippines. Mindanao is home to a large Muslim population that has clashed with the country's central government.

President Obama earlier this year called on U.S. companies that had outsourced jobs overseas to "insource" the work by bringing it back to America. USAID canceled its outsourcing training programs in Sri Lanka and the Philippines following InformationWeek's reports and subsequent complaints to the agency by Bishop.

USAID has said that the programs were established to provide opportunities to students in politically and economically unstable regions.

Bishop said he rejects that logic. "USAID's economic development mission overseas must not come at the expense of U.S. workers, and this new language will permanently prevent USAID from working at cross-purposes with our laser-like focus on putting American back to work."

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