Commentary

Losing (government) jobs to India

What if administering government programs could be done for free, perhaps using magic or robots or helper monkeys? Wouldn’t that be welcomed as one of the greatest efficiency innovations ever? Nope. Forget all that about protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For many, government is here to give us jobs. In an effort to save jobs, dozens of states have slapped on restrictions to limit the tiny amount of offshore outsourcing done by governments. Here’s a sample: ï Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin plan to bring back call-center work that had been overseas. ï In Arizona, an order from the state’s top procurement official says that all state procurement contracts must include a clause that explicitly states “all services under this contract shall be performed within the borders of the United States. This provision applies to work performed by subcontractors at all tiers.” ï Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D) signed an executive order that gives preference to Michigan-based job providers in the state government contracting process and requires the state to consider whether a bidder outsources abroad. ï Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty (R) and Missouri Gov. Bob Holden (D) issued executive orders requiring contractors to disclose where they plan to perform the work. Not all states, however, are following the crowd: ï The statehouses in Massachusetts and Maryland both passed anti-outsourcing legislation, but Govs. Mitt Romney and Gov. Robert Ehrlich, both republicans, vetoed them. The governors said the measures would hurt taxpayers and make their states less business-friendly.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.