The Jacksonville-headquartered division of a Cincinnati company was chosen this week to take over personnel services for state agencies -- a massive privatization affecting the jobs of 1,200 state workers.
Convergys Corp. beat out IBM, Computer Sciences Corp. and Epix for a seven-year contract that will cost the state $39.8 million annually -- about half of what the government now spends on running payroll, insurance, retirement, attendance-and-leave, and other personnel records on its aging system.
Avoiding the cost of replacing the obsolete Cooperative Personnel Employment Subsystem -- estimated at $65 million to $90 million -- was the biggest factor in Gov. Jeb Bush's plan for privatizing state personnel.
Convergys' Employee Care Unit employs about 3,600 workers in Jacksonville. Because the company is still in contract negotiations with the state, company officials declined yesterday to explain how the deal would affect Jacksonville workers.
Morris Applewhite, Convergys' vice president of sales and marketing, limited his comment about the deal to, "I think it will positively impact Jacksonville."
Fran Brooks, director of the Division of Human Resources Management, said Convergys will set up a service center employing about 300 workers in Tallahassee. She said about 26 percent of the 1,200 personnel employees now working in state agencies will be kept by the state when the privatized system is implemented over the next 18 months to two years.
Brooks and Robert Hosay, a senior attorney for the Department of Management Services who has overseen the privatization project, said Convergys agreed to hire as many state personnel employees as possible. They said those employees generally have specialized management and analytical skills, and should be easy to place in other state agencies if they don't stay in the remaining state human-resource jobs or go with Convergys.
"We specifically asked Convergys if they would commit to hiring our people and they said, 'We'd be fools not to, because they're highly qualified individuals who know the state business,' and they want them on their team," Brooks said. "It's a win-win situation for the state and Convergys."
The current budget retains all personnel employees through the fiscal year ending June 30. Management Services will present an implementation plan to legislative budget managers Oct. 25, then work out contract details in the next few months. When the contract is signed, the transition will take about 15 months.
That means employees making the move will know in the spring and go in late 2002 or early 2003, in most cases.
Convergys' data center in Jacksonville will commit about 250 employees there to handle the state contract, Brooks and Hosay said during a briefing after a meeting of an inter-agency advisory group. …