Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka 

By Tim Bradner

There’s a new dustup over Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration signing contracts with out-of-state companies, displacing Alaskan workers. First there was Wellpath and its no-bid contract to manage the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Now there is Alvarez & Marsal, an out-of-state IT consulting company, getting a $5 million contract to manage Alaska data in out-of-state servers.

Alaska public employees are protesting a decision by state Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka to outsource IT services contract to Alvarez & Marsal, which is based in New York, without doing a required feasibility study to show it would save money. A feasibility study is required under the state’s contract with its unions. Alaska Public Employees Association Local 52 has filed a grievance action against the state.

“On Friday, February 14, ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 filed a class action grievance against the State for its illegal pursuit to outsource Alaska data and Alaska jobs to lower 48 corporations. Commissioner Tshibaka started a project called AAPEX, paying Alvarez & Marsal to figure out how to outsource Alaska IT work done by Alaskans,” said Jake Metcalfe, Executive Director of the ASEA Local 59.

“Commissioner Tshibaka’s intention is to migrate Alaska’s data servers to ‘cloud’ servers outside Alaska. By engaging in this conduct, Tshibaka violated Article 13 of the State of Alaska’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with ASEA/AFSCME Local 52, that she recently agreed to and signed in August of 2019,” Metcalfe said.

Tshibaka’s intentions to move Alaska’s IT data to the “cloud” are unclear as there is ample evidence that this move could in fact cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in contract fees alone, not to mention unknown costs due to interruptions in government services that rely on data that would be stored on the cloud, Metcalfe said.

“The requirement for a feasibility study exists to prevent this kind of uncertainty about state services,” he added.

Tshibaka knows a feasibility study is required because the state and Gov. Mike Dunleavy are being sued by ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 for outsourcing work at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute to Wellpath, a Tennessee Corporation, also without doing a feasibility study, Metcalfe said.

The feasibility study a contract requirement but it’s also the smart business move for many reasons.

“The state shouldn’t transfer Alaska data currently stored in the state away from Alaska servers unless we know we will have the same or better services,” Metcalfe said. “Alaska needs the best IT services possible for many reasons, with public safety being a top priority. Currently, Alaska data and IT services are managed by Alaska public employees with quick local response times.”

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