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CSC favored for big San Diego outsourcing deal

Computer Sciences Corporation jumps the first hurdle required to nabbing a multimillion-dollar, seven-year computer contract with San Diego County.

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) today jumped the first hurdle required to nabbing a multimillion-dollar, seven-year computer systems outsourcing contract with San Diego County.

San Diego County chief administrative officer Walt Ekard today said he will recommend that the county's Board of Supervisors pick CSC as the prime contractor for the outsourcing deal. The board is expected to consider the recommendation at a meeting on October 26.

Under the deal, San Diego would privatize management of all of its computer networks, applications, and data systems. Analysts have estimated that the deal is worth between $700 million and $1 billion.

Computer services giants EDS and IBM Global services also had submitted bids. The companies will have five days to appeal the county's decision, according to a prepared statement by the county.

If approved, CSC will start work with its team, called the Pennant Alliance, which includes partners SAIC, Lucent Technologies, and Pacific Bell. The alliance employs more than 11,000 San Diego County residents.

The Board of Supervisors moved in February to privatize the county's information systems to improve efficiency and provide more training for its information technology staff. But San Diego is not the first to try to outsource its technology needs.

Computer Sciences and IBM both lost a bid in January to negotiate a high-profile seven-year contract with the state of Connecticut to Plano, Texas-based rival EDS. In June, Connecticut's governor killed the deal, which had come under political fire by opponents who wanted to keep the computer services in-house.

It remains to be seen whether a similar political battle will be waged in San Diego County.

If the contract approval goes smoothly, CSC's initial tasks will include network upgrades and construction Web sites and kiosks that will provide a directory of county services, government forms and applications, job postings, animal shelter information, and a calendar of events.