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Overseas Outsourcing A Possibility For Federal IT Projects

Two top federal IT policy makers don't philosophically object to the government's outsourcing some IT work overseas.
Rep. Tom Davis, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Subcommittee on IT and Procurement Policy, says contracting overseas programmers to write nonsensitive, nonstrategic government software could be a way to save taxpayer money. "I don't have a problem if work for the government--if it's done cheaper, same quality, talking about best values--is going offshore," he told InformationWeek. Davis points out that most of the overseas work would likely be part of outsourcing contracts awarded to American firms. "I see my job as trying to be an honest broker here to get the best value for the country."

Outsourcing IT work overseas doesn't bother Bush administration IT czar Mark Forman, either. "We don't care if it's built overseas or in the U.S., as long as it's built to the same high standards," says Forman, chief enforcer of the fed's IT policy as associate director for IT and E-government at the Office of Management and Budget.

But Forman doesn't see much of need to outsource IT work overseas. Offshore outsourcing would be employed mostly to develop customized apps or tailor off-the-shelf software, he says. Government agencies should use packaged software as it comes out of the box. Says Forman: "We don't want to spend taxpayers' money turning off best practices embedded in off-the-shelf software."

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing