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SOUTH CAROLINA STATE GOVERNMENT MOVES CALL CENTER JOBS TO INDIA

The state of South Carolina’s much-maligned central accounting system has moved an undetermined number of call center support jobs to India, sources tell FITS.  The incoming calls were previously handled by a facility in Columbia, S.C.

“It’s a great day to be outsourced!” our Indian-American governor Nikki Haley might say …

The South Carolina Enterprise Information System (SCEIS) – a centralized accounting system for state government – was created in 2001 for the purpose of modernizing state government’s finances.  It took eight years to launch, however, and continues to be plagued by all sorts of problems.

It’s been more than three years since we last reported on issues associated with SCEIS (here and here), but last year The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times reported on issues with the system’s payroll payments.

Earlier this year, S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell railed on SCEIS in a video posted to his YouTube site – but prior to FITS linking to the video for this story McConnell’s clip had only been watched six times.  According to McConnell, the price tag for SCEIS has mushroomed to more than $140 million – including payments to consultants who received more than $300,000 apiece for nine months of work on the system.

Worst of all, there was no accounting for the system (how’s that for irony) as it was being funded from the budgets of other agencies via “flexibility” provisos in the state budget.

“I want to know why this system costs so much, I want to know why we have to pay these consultants all of this money, I want to know what the benefit return to the taxpayers is going to be on this system, and if this system is so good why isn’t it a line item in the budget?” McConnell said.

Nobody may have watched McConnell’s video, but he was successful in forcing the state to appropriate money directly to the program rather funneling it through various agencies.

SCEIS received a $20.9 million appropriation in the curent (FY 2012-13) state budget – which was part of a $106.2 million appropriation to the S.C. Division of State Information Technology (DSIT), part of the S.C. Budget and Control Board (SCBCB).

Last year DSIT received $77.6 million – with no specific earmark for SCEIS.  Still, that amount represented a 22.9 percent increase from the previous year’s budget of $63.1 million.

Incidentally, neither DSIT nor the SCBCB returned calls seeking comment on this story.  And the bowl of alphabet soup we’re staring at had nothing to say either.

Well …

Look, we have no problem with state government outsourcing call center jobs.  If IBM India can handle this task better and more cost-effectively than South Carolina workers, more power to them.  Our problem?  The fact that it has taken state government more than ten years – and tens of millions of dollars – to simply come up with a system that tracks its expenditures and receipts.  That in and of itself is a sign of how big and unruly our government has become.

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