have clients in 55 countries around the world. We operate completely on a global model. Within the United States, we have almost 7,000 employees and our U.S. headquarters is in New York City."

TCS America has no qualms about going after business in state government and offering an offshore model for application development, Thomas said. But the company is sensitive to the PR issues facing government over situations like the Indiana DWD contract.

"Almost every one of our bids in state contracts are for on-site work," Thomas said. "The Indiana contract was going to be 100 percent done on-site in Indianapolis. Not a single piece of work was going to be done offshore."

He said TCS America likely would have brought in TCS employees onsite to do a big part of the work, and that 18 state workers would also have been involved in the project. Even with the structure of the contract stressing on-site development, Thomas said he's not surprised the DWD contract got so much bad press, given that this is an election year, but wishes the situation hadn't deteriorated to that point.

"In the process of signing the contract and the events that occurred leading up to the canceling of the contract, there was a great deal of misinformation published within the press," Thomas said. "Had more correct information been published, things might have turned out differently. If you go look at all the articles printed early on about the contract, all the opponents to the contract were talking about work going offshore to India. In this particular contract, not a single thing was going offshore.

"The election year certainly provides an opportunity for this to become a forum for a lot of people," he added. "Now will that forum still be there when the elections are over?"

Keeping IT in Indiana

Kernan's first step in kick-starting Opportunity Indiana was to create a work group to review Indiana's procurement. Chuck Martindale, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, heads the task force.

Martindale said the DWD's RFP is a prime example of what could be changed.

"No companies that were domiciled in Indiana had the ability, from a size standpoint and a structural standpoint, to tackle the massive project," Martindale said. "We stepped back and said, 'Is there a better way to restructure this RFP, to where instead of buying the complete project, can we do it in increments? Can we do the tax system with one vendor, and employment services with another vendor?'"

In the disputed DWD contract, TCS America submitted a bid that was $8 million less than other bids, was ratified by a panel of subject-matter experts and met all the qualifications set out by the procurement process. Martindale said it's not yet known if a new procurement process that gives Indiana companies the chance to compete on big projects will save the state a comparable amount of money.

"You don't know if you don't try," he said.

The task force also is stressing that the state wants to see as many subcontracting opportunities for Indiana firms as possible, he said. If a company domiciled in Indiana can't be the prime contractor, the task force wants to make sure the prime contractor gives Indiana-based companies the chance to compete for subcontracting.

Given the public outrage over the DWD contract that forced Kernan to take action, one might think the state has a habit of ignoring Indiana firms in state procurement practices.

However, over the last five years, Martindale said, more than 90 percent of the state's contracts for construction activities and 85 percent of the contracts for professional services have been awarded to vendors with Indiana addresses. Indiana companies are clearly not being shut out of state business, but the coverage of the DWD contract still struck a chord with the public.

Martindale said talks with procurement professionals in other states revealed they faced the same issues because of the national recession.

"There's a tendency to want to try to help your own," he said. "There's a tendency to buy Indiana, buy Georgia, buy California or buy local. You have to weigh the public benefit versus being a good steward with the public dollar."

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor