Here we go again.

With the Legislature not even out of session one full week, the Colyer administration unveiled its plan to lay off more than 50 information technology employees in order to accommodate a transition to a $50-million, 10-year no-bid contract with Canada’s CGI Co. for the purpose of developing and operating a new tax management computer system. …

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned with this plan beyond the obvious questions about the security of our tax information, the logic behind a $50 million, no-bid contract, and the loss of more than 50 information technology employees.

CGI is not subject to open records requests. It doesn’t have a legal obligation like the state’s revenue department to share information. It isn’t accountable to taxpayers in the same way as the Department of Revenue. Every move to privatize government services takes the public one step further from accountability of its tax dollars.

History should make all of us nervous about this transition. Remember the KEES system that was supposed to streamline Medicaid applications and create a better system? It was plagued with operating problems and cost overruns and only after six years of trying to address the issues is it now fully implemented. Not only did it not produce the $300 million dollars in savings used to justify the transition, but it cost the state millions more to develop than was planned. …

And now the administration is telling us we lack the talent in the Kansas Department of Revenue to handle software upgrades and need to embrace this unvetted contract. Yet the announcement comes days after the Legislature adjourns and is not in a position to ask questions or receive information briefings on the merits for this project.

There were no checks and balances, leaving Kansans to hope their most private, privileged information remains secure. …

The hollowing out of the Kansas state workforce through privatization is not a solution to improved government efficiency. We see no evidence that past privatization has resulted in cost savings or improved services. It’s time to invest in our state workforce instead of handing over its work to private companies whose only goal is to deliver a profit to its shareholders.

— GateHouse Kansas