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City's IT service provider coming under scrutiny

Six San Diego City Councilmembers and two former councilmembers were subpoenaed Wednesday to discover what they knew about the actions of a private company handling the city's information technology services.

A former employee of En Pointe Technologies Inc., the company awarded the bid to perform the city's help-desk services, claims the work was being outsourced to India in violation of a "no offshoring" provision in the contract. The practice also put sensitive information at risk of being stolen.

Todd Domiguez, who claims he was fired after complaining to his En Pointe superiors about the potential data breaches involved in the offshoring practice, filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court under the False Claims Act. Any private citizen can sue on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act if they feel a public agency has been defrauded by a private contractor.

A trial has been set for next year.

"His biggest concern, and what drove him to file the lawsuit, was he believed there are security issues," said San Francisco attorney Matt Borden, a partner of BraunHagey & Borden LLP who is helping represent Domiguez.

Borden said his client believes city officials didn't know En Pointe planned to subcontract the work overseas or else they wouldn't have awarded the company the contract.

Current councilmembers Carl DeMaio, Marti Emerald, Kevin Faulconer, Todd Gloria, Sherri Lightner and Tony Young, along with former members Donna Frye and Ben Hueso, were on the council that approved the contract.

"En Pointe, without telling the city, took city data, including from the San Diego Police Department, and sent it to India and used it to set up software being used to run the city's help desk," Borden said. "Part of the depositions is to find out when the city approved those contracts, did they understand city data was going to be sent overseas."

The lawsuit alleges that En Pointe may have placed highly sensitive and classified police, immigration and anti-terrorism data in the hands of unknown individuals in Pakistan and India.

The city of San Diego has been allowed to outsource some of its government functions with the passage of Proposition C in 2006. Proponents said it would make some services more economical and efficient.

According to the complaint against En Pointe, a critical provision of Proposition C required the winning bidder to be a U.S. company and that no foreign, non-U.S. based personnel would work on the project or have access to the city’s information.

The lawsuit claims that immediately after obtaining the city's IT contract, En Pointe began subcontracting the work to Allied Digital Services Ltd., which began staffing the project with employees in India and Gardena, Calif.

Pursuant to the contract, En Pointe was required to identify all subcontractors for vetting and monitoring throughout the life of the contract. According to the complaint, the only subcontractor disclosed in the request for proposal was Gray Systems, a small, San Diego-based, woman-owned business.

The suit also alleges that En Pointe took extensive measures to hide its actions.

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1 UserComments
stan budz 6:53pm September 7, 2012

no surprise. private business doesn't care. it's the bottle line and security doesn't matter.