Dear President Napolitano,
I write on behalf of the Board and membership of the UCSF Faculty Association to ask that the university reverse its decision to outsource IT jobs at UCSF, with the potential to outsource them at other campuses as well.
We support the rationales that many around the State of California have expressed in opposition to the decision to outsource these jobs. The University is a recipient of a high volume of revenue from public sources, including, of course funding from the State of California (about $2billion including the basic education allocation to UC and Medicaid reimbursements), and at least $8billion in Federal funds from such sources as NIH, NSF, CDC, and DOD contracts and grants, Medicare and Medicaid payments, and Pell grants, fellowships, scholarships, loans, and work study. As the recipient of such State of California and federal funds, the University owes it to the taxpayers to use these sources to hire citizens and residents and to do so in its role as a model employer, providing living wages with generous benefits. In using best hiring practices, the University contributes to the public welfare by reducing the possibility that its workers will be beneficiaries of public funding streams intended for the working poor such Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others.
Beyond efforts to continue to be models for employers in the public sector and setting standards that may percolate to the private sector, however, there is one additional aspect that touches us every day as faculty members and which hasn’t been discussed much in the press coverage of the decision to outsource some IT workers. Although the decision-makers were clearly focused only on the short-term result that costs for IT services may be lowered, they omitted the more important consideration that IT services are a crucial component of what we do in teaching, research, and clinical care realms. As many of us have witnessed during past reorganizations that have centralized these functions, there are more numerous blockages to critical academic activities when there is not a history of on-site collaboration between the IT staff and faculty and research and clinical staff. In the design of solutions to problems that arise, IT staff without intimate knowledge of how users interact with technology cannot provide needed services and productivity lags. Outsourcing also may increase the threat of data breaches, with implications for HIPAA and FERPA protections. We should add that for most UCSF faculty, IT is paid for through our contracts and grants, adding to the public accountability issues.
We ask that you immediately rescind this outsourcing of IT services both because it is not appropriate for a university operating with a majority of its funds coming from public sources to abrogate its responsibility to the public and because the quality of the IT work done will be compromised when workers are not be on-site, indeed may be outside the country. We add that asking current workers to train their replacements using H-IB visas but being paid far less is not befitting an institution which, as a public university, must earn the trust of the public each and every day.
The Board of the UCSF Faculty Association
Member, Council of UC Faculty Associations
CC: Chancellor Hawgood, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, Senator-Elect Harris, and Leader Pelosi