Concerns over NSW govt outsource deal. The NSW government is apparently in discussions with an offshore firm to outsource functions including customer service, possibly with the loss of hundreds of jobs. NSW Businesslink — the internal government agency that provides IT, financial and HR solutions for various departments — is in negotiations with US-based BMC to transfer its entire helpdesk database to a US-hosted service and call centre operations to BMC’s Indian division. Our insider reckons there’s security concerns over the potential deal:

“What this means is that government data in the form of email and documents that are often attached to help desk calls will under US law be available for perusal by US government departments. This show a total lack of concern from the state government with regard to its own data security and in this day and age that is extremely dangerous.”

And such a deal is likely to see plenty of jobs lost in Sydney: “The BMC help centre based in India will be assimilating some or all of the Australian service centre staff over the next few months. This means there will be hundreds of lost jobs. This is just the start and will mean many jobs lost to Indian call centres.”

We spoke to advisers at the Department of Families & Community Services and the office of overseeing minister Pru Goward but, despite insistences it was a beat-up, couldn’t get a complete answer by deadline. Some call centre functions will stay but it seems others will go. We’ll let you know; drop us a line or tip us anonymously if you know more.

Grubby tale about the MP’s Irish jig. A shocking revelation from the Queensland election trail, where one informant tells us — “astounded that none of this has come up before now” — that Kate Jones, the Labor MP running against Campbell Newman in Ashgrove, used to frequent the Queensland Irish Association where she engaged in such activities as having a beer and dancing the occasional jig. As much as our anonymous informant may wish it, we can’t see this sort of dirt sticking.

State minister for Norfolk Island post? From the 3AW Rumour File: “Caller Robert says a federal minister visited a former state minister and offered him the position of governor of Norfolk Island for three years. He says the announcement is set to take place today.” Stay tuned.

Product fail: wear more clothes. Crikey issues this urgent consumer warning on a brand of sleeping bags that don’t, in fact, keep you warm. One Crikey reader who purchased a Kathmandu synthetic sleeping bag was informed via email that a “manufacturing error” meant the products “will not perform to their stated EN 13537 temperature rating”. Yes, apparently there are European standards for sleeping bag toastiness, which is a change from when Australian sleeping bag makers just made guesstimates on how much cold the bags could handle.

This customer was most thankful for the notice — a “precautionary measure”, it said, with some helpful advice: “An easy way to increase the warmth is to wear a suitable additional layer of clothing.” Except as one ex-sleeping bag designer told Crikey (hey, we know people) an additional layer of clothes often isn’t very useful because clothing reduces your circulation — better to be n-ked (or as comfortably n-ked as you like). Also, the sleeping bag guru noted temperatures were a fairly useless way of comparing warmth anyway, as it depends on additional factors and Australia had a notoriously damp cold that made low temperatures feel even colder. Rug up, folks.

Peter Fray

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