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01.31.20

TVA Aims to Outsource Critical IT Jobs - IFPTE Weighs-in on Capitol Hill

Honorable Grace Napolitano, Chairwoman
Subcommittee on Water Resources
U.S House of Representatives
H2-585 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Bruce Westerman, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Water Resources
U.S. House of Representatives
2164 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

As the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Water Resources Subcommittee, and having direct jurisdiction over the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), we are writing to notify you that 108 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) workers represented by the Engineering Association (EA/IFPTE Local 1937) were notified on Tuesday by the TVA that their jobs would soon be outsourced. As you can imagine, as the elected officers of the EA and IFPTE, we are extremely disappointed that TVA has decided to move these IT functions not only outside of TVA itself, but possibly outside of the Tennessee Valley, or even the United States. We are further concerned that this was done with little to no transparency, and not in accordance with TVA’s own contracting decision processes.

First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that TVA’s decision to outsource IT infrastructure and software jobs flies in the face of TVA’s mission to assist state and local governments with economic development, job creation and prosperity to the Tennessee Valley. Indeed, these are jobs that are performed by residents of the Tennessee Valley. Many of these workers have been long-time, loyal employees for TVA, who not only have families who depend on them, but also take pride in serving our rate payers.

It is our understanding that TVA’s desire to re-model this IT infrastructure and software work has sent them in the direction of outsourcing these jobs to one or more managed service providers, wherein, any and all of the work would be sourced by workers from anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world. TVA is enlisting the services of several companies to provide the various services it will outsource. For example, one such company, Capgemini, is a global IT consulting and technology service company located in Paris, France. It certainly is easy to see where this work could leave the Tennessee Valley, and/or the country.

As you are aware, and like most other federal agencies, TVA has a process to evaluate if work should be performed in-house vs. outsourcing. TVA’s process, the Contract Decision Model (CDM), provides for the participation of the affected employees’ union. In accordance with the model, TVA’s objective is to be competitive and viable for the long term. The decision to perform the work by its own force or by contract are driven by several factors that include ensuring competitive cost, ensuring quality work & customer service and enhancing job opportunities & career development for TVA employees. The model is meant to ensure that when contracts are used, TVA uses diverse & valley-wide business.

As required, TVA engaged together with the EA/IFPTE Local 1937 in the CDM for two portions of IT work – software development & infrastructure. However, TVA failed to complete the CDM with the EA/ IFPTE Local 1937 and failed to provide the union required information - consulting & benchmarking data - used in its decision to outsource the work. Additionally, TVA did not run the model with any particular comparison options, making only a general comparison to GSA schedule 70 type contracts. No companies were compared against TVA’s IT workforce in the decision model. Further, TVA is required to consider 3 major factors: TVA service & quality requirements; impacts to TVA employees, and cost. TVA reports that outsourcing the work does not cost less than keeping the work in-house. Absolutely no savings were identified by outsourcing.

Also problematic is the fact that while the EA/IFPTE Local 1937 was working through the CDM with TVA, TVA signed a $15M contract with Capgemini in September 2019. When the union provided TVA an option to outsourcing which included keeping and re-engaging the existing workforce by use of the DevOps model – a model that TVA had indicated was desirable - TVA did not respond. By this time, it was mid-November 2019 and TVA refused to any further discussions with the union. In short, TVA did not run the CDM with the union in good faith.

We want to make it clear that our members are more than capable of doing this work and doing it well. In fact, TVA reports that their own infrastructure support outpaces the industry benchmark. Yet, it is our understanding that TVA plans to run an additional CDM on their remaining IT work this spring, in which more pink slips can be expected for over 100 more TVA employees.

We believe that TVA’s agenda to outsource these jobs is fiscally irresponsible, being undertaken without transparency and in violation of TVA’s own internal contracting policies, compromises the safety and security of TVA’s IT infrastructure, could lead to these jobs being sent overseas, and is contrary to TVA’s mission to bring and keep work in the valley. For these reasons, we urge the House Water Resources Subcommittee to provide oversight of TVA on this issue by holding hearings and/or inquiring with TVA management about this misguided decision to outsource this work.

We thank you for your consideration and stand ready to work with both of you and your staff moving forward.

Sincerely,

Paul Shearon
President

Matthew Biggs
Secretary-Treasurer/Legislative Director

Gay Henson
EA/IFPTE Local 1937 President
Eastern Federal Area Vice President

IFPTE's House Letter on TVA IT Outsourcing

IFPTE's Senate Letter on TVA IT Outsourcing

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