dependents, emergency contacts, marital status and other personal information. Employees also will use the portal to enroll in benefit programs and access benefit information.

COPES will be gradually phased out, said Kathleen Anders, director of communications for DMS, but the department will continue to manage personnel services that are policy driven. "This is an outsourcing project, not a privatization project," Anders said. "We do keep control, and we'll be watching the benchmarks."

The deal has its critics, including the Florida chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Alma Gonzalez, special counsel to the president of the Florida AFSCME, said the organization has several concerns.

"There's a lot of information that's being transferred back and forth between our public entity to this private entity, and many, many of the personnel records that are going to be handled are even exempt from the public-records law," she said. "In this day and time of identity fraud, the question of the security of the records is a serious matter."

The AFSCME also is wary of the potential impact on state employees.

"As a labor representative, we're very concerned that there will be lots of layoffs behind this privatization, which seems to be unnecessary," she said.

Anders said the arrangement ultimately will benefit employees, and that Florida will assist state workers who lose their jobs due to the outsourcing project.

"There are some people in the personnel department who will be displaced," she said. "Convergys is going to open a site in Tallahassee, and they will be interviewing state employees for 75 positions in that office. Our goal is to place everybody who wants to be placed, either in state government or working with Convergys."