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A CIO rejects, for now, university’s IT offshoring plan

Patrick Thibodeau | Nov. 11, 2016
Plans by University of California-San Francisco to offshore IT work prompts response from Berkeley CIO

Still, Conrad didn't completely rule out outsourcing, and said it "does need to be considered as part of the overall portfolio of services we or any other university (or any other business) provides."

In a follow-up email in response to questions, Conrad said the school does do some outsourcing and "will continue to look at those options on a case-by-case basis. But we do not presently have plans to outsource big chunks of our IT operations."

Computerworld also asked Conrad whether the use of "use of offshore workers -- often on temporary visas -- is appropriate in an academic environment? Particularly one that is training people for occupations in IT?"

"In regards to offshore workers, UC Berkeley, like many other institutions, has been hit very hard by the systemic disinvestment in public higher education by state governments," Conrad replied. "Historically, public higher education was viewed as a public good ... and in places like the Bay area that 'bargain' has paid off over decades in dramatic ways that have literally transformed our world. However, today that bargain with state government -- that investing in the education of state students benefits the state economy and society -- seems to be fundamentally broken and replaced with a prevailing belief in state governments across the country that higher education is a private good, benefitting the individual, and should not be a priority for state investment. That certainly seems to have become the case here in California."

Conrad said that the "central IT budget here at Berkeley has been cut to the bone to a point where all we can do is keep the metaphorical lights on and nothing else. No resources for innovation or even extending existing services."

"Consequently, we will continue to look at options to reduce our expenses while not jeopardizing our ability to support the campus. In some cases, that does involve offshore workers and we will continue to assess the efficacy of that on a case-by-case basis," he wrote.


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