Texas Gov. Rick Perry's decision to halt the state's troubled data center outsourcing and consolidation with IBM begs this question: Is outsourcing really the way to make government functions more efficient? Robin MacEwan, chief of staff to Texas Rep. Carl Isett, who helped pass 2005 legislation mandating the consolidation, says outsourcing is still the right option for data centers.

"With any huge project, you're going to see hiccups and bumps along the way, things that need to be worked out," MacEwan said, adding that the project's difficulties could have just as easily happened if the state consolidated the data centers itself.

She praised the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) for withholding roughly $900,000 from IBM for not meeting server backup timeliness targets as defined in the outsourcing contract.

Perry froze the transfer of state data to IBM in an Oct. 28 letter to Brian Rawson, chief technology officer of Texas and executive director of the DIR, which awarded IBM the contract. Perry cited IBM's apparent failure to back up data for more than 20 agencies. The governor's order came a week after local media reported a July server failure in the Attorney General's Office that temporarily lost eight months of data.

"The problems that have been painfully documented over recent months, including state agency concerns about unreliable e-mail systems, administrative cost increases and other breakdowns, have resulted in a loss of confidence in the DIR's ability to provide Texas agencies with a proper level of service for technology services," Perry said in the letter.

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Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.