Today in Victoria (which is British Columbia’s capital) I spoke at an IT-focused conference called Strategies for Public Sector Transformation. It turns out that by “transformation” they meant mostly outsourcing; the current jargon is “Alternative Service Delivery”. These are smart people and they are in the same squeeze as a lot of other governments: on one side tax-cutting politicians and on the other inexorably rising health-care costs. So outsourcing looks attractive, because lots of times it drives costs down. On the other hand, these are after all IT projects and, as such, a high proportion of them fail. I also think we should be honest and acknowledge is that some of the cost savings come, not from core competencies and all that, but from paying people less for the same work. There was also a fairly horrifying presentation by a woman from Texas about the state legislature leaning very heavily on the public-service agencies to outsource not just infrastructure but basics such as qualifying people for benefits. Huh? I thought the point of outsourcing was to focus on your core competencies. In any case, I was there mostly to talk about identity standards, which isn’t getting nearly enough attention; if I were a hotshot young developer looking for a niche to build in with lots room and upside, that’s where I’d go.