Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, Democratic candidate for governor, on Wednesday defended the efforts of an organization he once headed to promote outsourcing jobs overseas among technology companies.
McCord was asked about the outsourcing push, and how he could square it with his promise to be an advocate for the state’s working families, during an editorial board meeting with Penn Live, a Harrisburg news organization that publishes the thrice weekly Patriot-News.
The Eastern Technology Council, a trade organization McCord led from 1996 to 2007, partnered with Judge Group, a consultancy which offered services to council members, including advice on how to outsource jobs overseas.
“In the ‘90s in particular most places didn’t have IT offices and they were going through a lot of stuff,” McCord said in the meeting. “The raw spend in India because of the looming ‘Y2K problem’ was overwhelming. And I will tell you the executives I knew, and I knew 8,000 executives roughly – 10 for every member company [of ETC] – were terrified of Y2K, and they were desperate.”
He was referring to the widely held fear computers worldwide would crash, with devastating effect, when the calendar turned over to the year 2000. Companies made fixes to software and the fear turned out to be overblown.
But McCord’s organization was promoting outsourcing well after the Y2K scare. In 2001, twice in 2005 and in 2007, the Eastern Technology Council held training sessions and discussions about outsourcing, both in webinars and in live meetings.
A survey of Eastern Technology Council members in 2006 found that 48 percent of respondents had shipped high-skill jobs overseas, about 90 percent of them to India, saving an average of 25 percent on staffing costs. A report on the poll is here on page 18 of the June 2006 Technology Times newsletter produced by the council.
McCord said that the ETC also advocated for tax incentives that helped the tech companies stay and expand in Pennsylvania.
He noted that he has been endorsed in the gubernatorial primary by several dozen unions representing 450,000 members. “It’s a suggestion that people have certainly audited my career and come to the conclusion that I’ll defend working people in Pennsylvania,” McCord told Penn Live.