By John Orona
When does a job go from temporary to the norm? For the City of Pasadena, it seems more than six years of “temporary staffing” for the Department of Information Technology (IT) is still not enough to meet its growing technological demands.
The Department of IT is responsible for providing technical support services throughout Pasadena, but despite hosting world-renowned technological higher-learning institutions, innovative start-ups and established tech firms, the city has had a hard time with permanent staffing for its regular as well as special projects.
At the end of last year, the City Council approved a contract extension to NTT Data Inc. for temporary IT staffing, citing continuing needs in business systems analyst services, app development and web development, with two to five vacancies to be filled in the department throughout the year.
The city’s original contract with NTT was for three years and began in October 2015 for $1 million per year. However, that contract only came about after the firm was selected as a pre-approved vendor from a different temporary IT staffing request for proposal back in October 2012.
According to a May 2015 city report, after being designated as a pre-approved vendor, candidates from the firm were of a “higher caliber” and would “consistently outperform” other pre-approved vendors in the competition for advertised assignments.
In March 2013 the city increased its annual purchase order with NTT from less than $75,000 to $400,000 before increasing it again in 2015 to $1 million “based on volume and length of assignments engaged with candidates from that firm,” the report read.
More than $1.15 million was spent on temporary staffing by the city in fiscal year 2015, the bulk of the assignments went to supporting configuration and rollout of enterprise resource planning software and staff backfill. That figure represents over 20,000 hours at an average billable rate of approximately $56 per hour.
The savings from hiring temporary workers instead of permanent ones with associated pension and tax costs, in part, fund the contract with NTT. But even with the fiscal advantage of temporary workers, the city acknowledged the advantage and potential use for long term workers.
“Throughout the term of this contract, if a continued operational need is identified, then staff will evaluate use of existing vacancies, if available, or seek additional positions through the annual budget process to meet that need with a permanent solution rather than through ongoing temporary personnel,” a city report on the contract read.
During the contract extension, the city will be looking to hire yet another vendor for temporary staffing services after receiving over 50 proposals for staffing last October. The extension is in part to allow staff time to sift through the proposals, as well as to finish existing assignments with the firm.
If past staffing contracts are an indicator of how the future proposals will play out, the selected firm would be awarded an optional three-year contract, meaning the temporary staffing issue could continue over a decade into 2023.
All the staffing contracts are for business systems analyst services, app development and web development, but the 2012 and 2015 agreements also include project management services, various Water and Power projects and back fill for two to seven vacant roles.