ACS developing offshoring guidelines for industry

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is meeting with IT Minister Daryl Williams on March 24 to develop guidelines for responsible offshoring.

Keen to take a leadership role in the debate, ACS president Edward Mandla wants offshoring decisions to be a boardroom responsibility and C-level executives to include social implications in any outsourcing plans.

"Organizations need to be reminded that every job lost is a personal human tragedy," he said.

"Companies need to assess if savings are real or if they are just short-term. Often, short-term savings cannot be sustained and responsible offshoring is about assessing long-term risks."

Today's corporate culture, he says, allows executives who cut costs to receive whopping bonuses.

"This is wrong; if it involves displacing an Australian worker this should be stopped. While I do not support the use of legislation I do support greater accountability because companies that outsource offshore must have a defendable purchasing policy."

Mandla said the reason he doesn't support legislation is because business has a fundamental right to cut costs but agrees companies who do outsource should be forced to disclose details of any jobs they relocate offshore.

"A company that dumps 450 workers and then finds out it's the wrong decision is a real tragedy; there should be a degree of shame if you offshore without following rigorous processes. Cost cutting should be done sensibly.

"Unfortunately we have a culture in Australia that does not support the ICT industry."

Telstra opposes legislation

Telstra came out fighting this week against proposed offshore outsourcing legislation claiming it is anticompetitive. "We are an international business and we need to source goods and services that are globally competitive just to compete," a Telstra spokesman said.

On the subject of greater accountability, the spokesman said moves by some of the telco's suppliers to source labour offshore has been "well-documented, there certainly aren't any secrets."

When it comes to social responsibility, the spokesman said a board's first responsibility is a good return to shareholders.

"If the company isn't competitive then there won't be any jobs at all - that's the reality," he said.

An IBM spokesman said the company was unwilling to comment or contribute to the debate.

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