Orange County supervisors this week approved a $133.5 million, five-year contract with Xerox that includes overhauling telephone and data transmission service for the county.
The deal marked the first new contract for county computer and telephone service since November 2000. The previous contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions expired on June 30, 2011, but was extended while the new agreement was negotiated.
Tuesday's vote follows the board's adoption in May of a $74.3 million, five-year contract with Science Applications International Corp. for computer services such as desk-top support and maintenance on computer programs.
The Xerox deal has angered Orange County Employees Association leaders and some county employees, who claimed they could save the county millions of dollars by doing some of the work in-house.
Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, implored the board of supervisors to keep the work in-house instead of contracting with Xerox.
"We ask you for once to gamble on your workers. If you're going to take a risk then take a risk with the men and women who work for you and haven't threatened to shut you down," Berardino said, referring to how Xerox officials recently said they would not cooperate with helping with a transition from the prior contract for the services to the new contract if supervisors did not approve the new agreement. They later backed down from the threat.
Xerox has been in charge of computer services, but came in second in the bidding to SAIC, which won that contract.
For phone services, Xerox outbid Verizon.
Berardino later blasted county supervisors for not discussing the contract before voting 4-1 to approve it, with Orange County Board Chairman Shawn Nelson casting the lone dissenting vote.
"Your silence spoke volumes today to all county workers," Berardino said at the Tuesday meeting.
Supervisor Janet Nguyen noted the board had a vigorous debate about the contract the last time they discussed it at a July 30 meeting.
Nelson criticized Xerox at the July 30 meeting for returning to the board with a higher price. The Xerox deal ended up costing about $26.8 million more than the company's final proposal before negotiations, said Mahesh Patel, the county's Computer Information Officer. That is still $37.5 million less than the second-best bidder, according to Patel.
Following negotiations, SAIC's estimate came in about $13 million more over the five-year contract than the company bid in November, according to Patel. But that was still $11 million less than the next-best bidder, Patel added.
The new five-year contract with Xerox will save about $32.3 million, according to county officials.
Supervisors also approved an extension of the contract with Xerox for computer services until SAIC can take over until Jan. 19, 2014. That transition is not to exceed $8.8 million.
County officials have pledged to avoid laying off any of the 19 to 20 employees who work on computer systems, but there's no guarantee. Anyone who is laid off will get a chance to interview for a new job with the service provider, Patel said.
Xerox will be providing service to about 280 locations in the county, Patel said.
County officials met with union leaders several times to get their input on the new contracts, Patel said.
"We have spent significant time with OCEA addressing their concerns," Patel told the supervisors. "We've been very transparent with what we've provided."
Jennifer Muir of the OCEA, however, said after today's meeting that the union was alarmed by calculations made on costs that they think are incorrect. Some county employees believe Xerox will replace already "state of the art" equipment, driving up the cost unnecessarily, Muir said.
– City News Service.