WASHINGTON The government's examination of offshoring has been outsourced.
An obscure quasi-governmental agency called the National Academy of Public Administration is following up on key conclusions of a July 2004 study by the Commerce Department's Technology Administration on the offshoring of high-tech jobs. An academy panel will drill down into government labor statistics in an attempt to document the extent and impact of shipping more U.S. high-tech jobs to overseas design centers in India, China and other low-cost locations.
The panel is examining "how adequate the currently available data are," said project director Kenneth Ryder. Preliminary conclusions from its two-year study are expected to be released in late September. The final report could be ready as early as the end of the year.
The offshoring panel wants to create a framework for using what Ryder called "micro-level data" collected by government agencies like the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. U.S. labor statistics that would shed light on the breadth of high-tech offshoring are often confidential, and Ryder said no framework exists for sharing multiagency data.
One result of the panel's work could be a memorandum of understanding among government agencies for sharing U.S. labor statistics on offshoring and outsourcing. That data could then be used to develop a government response to the alarming increase in the number of high-tech jobs being shipped overseas, observers said.
The Commerce study, which was suppressed for two years by the Bush Administration, concluded that contrary to U.S. industry claims, design-engineering jobs are being shipped to locations like India, primarily to save on labor costs at home. It found that foreign engineers "are not, for the most part, working on country-specific applications, working for Indian clients, working with clients in the same time zone or engaged in 24/7 design."
The congressionally mandated report, which was finally released earlier this year, also found that additional data is needed from government and industry sources to document the offshoring of high-tech jobs.
Commerce Department officials declined to comment on the offshoring report. A spokeswoman said only that the 2004 Technology Administration study was the department's sole "official assessment" and that no further study was planned.