Legislators hear bashing of Haslam outsourcing plan

State and University of Tennessee employees told a Senate committee Tuesday that if Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to outsource the operation and maintenance of all state property and buildings sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Further from Richard Locker:

The Senate State & Local Government Committee heard presentations from the Tennessee State Employees Association and from Tom Anderson, a buyer in UT’s Facilities Services office — the first time that workers have testified formally in a legislative committee since the massive outsourcing initiative was publicly revealed last August.

Two weeks ago, the governor’s outsourcing team presented to the same panel its “business justification” for outsourcing: that a private contractor could save up to $35.8 million when fully implemented, without cutting staff or benefits, primarily through volume purchasing, better-trained staff and more work performed in-house directly by contractor’s employees.

But TSEA spokesman Chris Dauphin told the committee that “essentially means” that when the state buys good and services, “we are being overcharged by $35.8 million.” He said outsourcing everything is an overreaction to a small problem that can be corrected.

“Let’s simply leverage our $30 billion plus enterprise (state government’s annual budget) to negotiate better pricing on goods and services, cross-train our current employees and let state employees continuing the great work they are doing.”

Dauphin also said private contractors often charge extra for services not specified in a contract. He read Texas media reports to the committee of “cost shifting” by the private vendor at Texas A&M University, which the governor’s outsourcing team says is a model for facilities management outsourcing.

Randy Stamps, a former state legislator and legislative staffer who now heads TSEA, cited the Legislature’s experience with Jones Lang LaSalle’s state contract to manage the Legislative Plaza, including having to file work orders to Chicago to obtain simple maintenance tasks.

…The committee chairman, Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, said it’s too early to say whether the committee will make a recommendation on the governor’s outsourcing initiative.