dcblogs writes: It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits — such as leadership and intelligence — business may want this information. People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job. This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research Wednesday at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo in Orlando. This research is called "maverick" in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors. It isn't as radical as it seems. Job selection on the basis of certain desirable genetic characteristics is already common in the military and sports. Even without testing, businesses, governments and others may use this understanding about how some characteristics are genetically determined to develop new interview methodologies and testing to help identify candidates predisposed to the traits they desire.
dcblogs writes: A University of California IT employee whose job is being outsourced to India recently wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for help. Feinstein's office sent back a letter addressing manufacturing job losses, not IT, and offered the worker no assistance. "I am being asked to do knowledge transfer to a foreigner so they can take over my job in February of 2017," the employee, wrote in part. The employee is part of a group of 50 IT workers and another 30 contractors facing layoffs after the university hired an offshore outsourcing firm. The firm, India-based HCL, won a contract to manage infrastructure services. Since the layoffs became public, the school has posted Labor Condition Applications (LCA) notices — as required by federal law when H-1B workers are being placed. UCSF employees have seen these notices and made some available to Computerworld. They show that the jobs posted are for programmer analyst II and network administrator IV. For the existing UCSF employees, the notices were disheartening. "Many of us can easily fill the job. We are training them to replace us," said one employee who requested anonymity because he is still employed by the university.
dcblogs writes: An age discrimination lawsuit against Google was approved Wednesday as a '"collective action" by a federal court judge in San Jose. The decision means that certain types of software engineers, age 40 or over, who were rejected for jobs at Google since August 2014, and after an in-person interview, will be able to join the lawsuit. Thousands of others may be eligible. But this was more than an ordinary court ruling. Judge Beth Labson Freeman's ruling may be remembered for the artful flourish of its opening sentence and the challenge it seems to be delivering to Silicon Valley. "How does age factor into one's Googleyness?" Freeman wrote at the beginning of a 17-page decision that sets in motion an investigation of Google's hiring practices and corporate culture. This lawsuit was brought by two job applicants, both over the age of 40, who alleged age discrimination against Google. One of the plaintiffs, Cheryl Fillekes, a programmer, was interviewed by Google on four separate occasions, including in-person interviews, and was rejected each time.
dcblogs writes: Voting machines are privately manufactured and developed and, as with other many other IT systems, the code is typically proprietary. The use of proprietary systems in elections has its critics. One Silicon Valley group, the Open Source Election Technology Foundation, is pushing for an election system that shifts from proprietary, vendor-owned systems to one that that is owned "by the people of the United States." One major election technology company, Dominion Voting Systems (DVS), develops its systems in the U.S. and Canada but also has an office in Belgrade, Serbia. It was recently advertising openings for four senior software developers in Belgrade. "Like many of America's largest technology companies — which develop some of the software for their products in places like Asia, India, Ireland and the Mideast — some of our software development is undertaken outside the U.S. and Canada, specifically, in Serbia, where we have conducted operations for 10 years," said firm spokesman Chris Riggall.
dcblogs writes: The dean of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, S. Shankar Sastry, also serves on the board of HCL Technologies. This is a company that delivers IT services, and whose subsidiary, HCL America, was hired by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). Sastry has been on the HCL board since 2012, and reports his compensation to the university. The relationship is clearly in the open, but there is a complication. The decision to hire HCL to manage infrastructure at UCSF is bad news for about 50 of its IT employees and another 30 contractors. They will lose their jobs to the outsourcing company by the end of February after replacement training is completed. A university spokeswoman said the dean "does not know nor is a party to the details of the UCSF contract" and there is no conflict. Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University, said that Sastry should resign immediately from the HCL Technologies board "and donate the compensation he's received from the firm to a fund to help the U.S. workers displaced by HCL." Pradeep K. Khosla, chancellor of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), is on the board of HCL Infosystems, a firm that provides distribution and IT services for companies in India, Asia and the Middle East. His office says HCL Technologies is a legally separate firm with no association with HCL Infosystems. The two firms share the same parent company, HCL Corp.
dcblogs writes: The offshore outsourcing planned at the University of California's San Francisco (UCSF) campus is following a standard playbook. The affected employees expect to train their replacements as a condition of severance. Their jobs will soon be in India and they'll be out of work. But the chancellor of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Pradeep K. Khosla, may still be getting compensated by HCL Infosystems. It is one of the units of India-based HCL, the IT services contractor hired by the university. Khosla is an independent and non-executive director on the HCL Infosystems board of directors. Khosla has reported his HCL compensation to the university at $12,000 last year for 56 hours of total time served. He also earns $12,000 from Infosys Science Foundation as chair of the engineering and computer science jury, according to the compensation report. When asked if the university's contract with HCL creates a conflict for Khosla, a UCSD spokeswoman,replied: "The contract was negotiated between UCSF and HCL; it did not involve Chancellor Pradeep Khosla in any way, nor was it discussed at any HCL meeting that Chancellor Khosla attended." But the HCL contract can be leveraged by any UC campus. The "HCL agreement is UC-wide," according to notes from the university's system-wide Architecture Committee. "Other CIOs looking at UCSF experience before other folks dip in. Wait for a year before jumping in with HCL." Another issue for the university may be having an association generally with the offshore outsourcing industry, which works at displacing U.S. IT workers, including computer science grads of institutions such as the University of California.
dcblogs writes: A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA. "How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif). Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services. The affected employees will leave their jobs in February, after they train their contractor replacements.
dcblogs writes: The University of California is laying off a group of IT workers at its San Francisco campus as part of a plan to move work offshore. Laying off IT workers as part of a shift to offshore is somewhere between rare and unheard-of in the public sector. The layoffs will happen at the end of February, but before the final day arrives the IT employees expect to train foreign replacements from India-based IT services firm HCL. The firm is working under a university contract valued at $50 million over five years, This layoff affects 17% of UCSF's total IT staff, broken down this way: 49 IT permanent employees will lose their jobs, along with 12 contract employees and 18 vendor contractors. This number also includes 18 vacant IT positions that won't be filled, according to the university. Governments and publicly supported institutions, such as UC, have contracted with offshore outsourcers, but usually it's for new IT work or to supplement an existing project. The HCL contract with UCSF can be used by other UC campuses, which means the layoffs may expand across its 10 campuses. HCL is a top user of H-1B visa workers.
dcblogs writes: A plan by the U.S. government to require some foreign travelers to provide their social media IDs on key travel documents is being called by critics “ludicrous,” an “all-around bad idea,” “blatant overreach,” “desperate, paranoid heavy-handedness,” “preposterous,” “appalling,” and “un-American." That's just a sampling of the outrage. Some 800 responded to the U.S. request for comments about a proposed rule affecting people traveling from “visa waiver” countries to the U.S., where a visa is not required. This includes most of Europe, Singapore, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Travelers will be asked to provide their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and whatever other social ID you can imagine to U.S. authorities. It’s technically an “optional” request, but since it’s the government asking, critics believe travelers will fear consequences if they ignore it. People who are traveling from a country where a visa is required, such as India or China, get a security vetting when they apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate, so this proposal doesn’t apply to them. In a little twist of irony, some critics said U.S. President Obama’s proposal for foreign travelers is so bad, it must have been hatched by Donald Trump.
dcblogs writes: Florida’s announcement Tuesday that a locally transmitted Zika case turned up Pinellas County , which includes St. Petersburg, moves reported cases of the virus a little closer to Georgia. That’s where Maria Stephens, who is pregnant, works as a senior data research analyst. Stephens was initially skeptical about Zika and paid little attention to the headlines about it. “I don't really respond to dramatization and felt that things were possibly being blown out of proportion,” said Stephens. “I'm a statistician at heart and only listen to numbers, so when my quant-minded OB-GYN shared the figures with me, this threat became a lot more real." Zika is still so new in the U.S. it’s hard to know just how employers and employees will react. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first mosquito-borne cases in Miami in early August. St. Petersburg is about 270 miles away. The millennial generation will likely bear the brunt of the Zika problem. Kelly McBride Folkers, a research associate at NYU Langone Medical Center, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times asking if Zika was, because of its ability to be transmitted through sex, was The Millennials’ S.T.D.
dcblogs writes: The vast majority of the world’s electronics — its servers, PCs, mobile phones — are now manufactured in China. This means any inadvertent escalation over the on-going South China Sea territorial dispute could do more than raise geopolitical tensions. About 84% of the world’s electronics are made in Asia, and about 85% of those goods are made in China, said Michael Palma, an analyst at IDC. “All that product flows through the South China Sea,” said Palma. Headlines about military activities in the region appear frequently. Just this month, Vietnam moved rocket launchers within striking distance of China’s military positions. Recent photographs show new aircraft hangerson China’s islands that are believed to be for fighter aircraft. “The South China Sea dispute is indeed a serious security issue of global significance because it has the potential to lead the world into war,” said Linda Lim, a professor of strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a China and Southeast Asia expert.
dcblogs writes: The U.S. is being sued over its plan to take one of the Pacific's most beautiful places, Pagan Island, and turn into a training facility and bombing range for the U.S. military. “Families who formerly resided on Pagan would be forever banished from returning to their home island, which would be turned into a militarized wasteland,” according to the lawsuit filed by lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, which is representing some the groups in the Northern Mariana Islands fighting this action. The 18-square-mile island, which is part Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and a U.S. territory, is about about the size of Hartford, Conn. It is a volcanic island, shaped by magma and violent explosions. There are large rock outcrops, cliffs, King Kong Island-type vistas, relatively high elevations and plateaus. The island was evacuated in 1981 because of volcanic activity, but a handful of people have taken up residence. The government's proposal is reminiscent of the takeover of Bikini Atoll in 1946, which was used for nuclear testing. The U.S. Environmental Impact Statement suggest that the government has made plans to protect the native’s island wildlife. For instance, consider the protections for the fruit bat. “The proposed 0.5- mile (0.8-kilometer) buffer zone around each (Fruit Bat) colony will significantly reduce the potential for aircraft strikes of fruit bats.” [Emphasis added]
dcblogs writes: Last October, the U.S. government began hiring 6,500 new cybersecurity IT professionals. It has hired 3,000 so far, and plans to hire another 3,500 by January 2017, the White House said Tuesday. This hiring is intended to improve the nation's response to "increasingly sophisticated and persistent cyber threats that pose strategic, economic, and security challenges to our nation," said White House officials in a memo. The problem the U.S. faces is pay: For instance, a job ad for an "IT specialist INFOSEC" sets a salary floor of $55,670. The wages can rise to just over $100,000, and a master's degree is needed.
dcblogs writes: Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Monday criticized the replacement of U.S. IT workers with foreign labor but stopped short of offering a plan to fix it. In a videotaped interview with Vox, Clinton appears empathetic and sympathetic to IT workers who have trained their foreign replacements as a condition of severance. She mentioned IT layoffs at Disney, specifically. "The many stories of people training their replacements from some foreign country are heartbreaking, and it is obviously a cost-cutting measure to be able to pay people less than what you would pay an American worker," said Clinton in the interview. Keith Barrett, a former IT worker Disney who was among those replaced by contractors, was not happy with Clinton's comments."She starts off as if she understands the problem, but then dismisses it as collateral damage not of significant volume to address, and blends in the problem of illegal immigrant labor, which is mostly working in unskilled labor," said Barrett.
dcblogs writes: In 2003, Tata Consultancy Services, a large India-based outsourcing firm, opened an office Buffalo office, which it described as then Sen. Hillary Clinton's "brainchild." At the announcement Clinton said, "TCS could have located anywhere in the country. I am proud but not surprised that they chose Buffalo." It became a talking point for Clinton in her defense of offshore outsourcing. "Well, of course I know that they outsource jobs, that they've actually brought jobs to Buffalo," said Clinton to Lou Dobbs, then at CNN, in a 2004 interview. "They've created 10 jobs in Buffalo and have told me and the Buffalo community that they intend to be a source of new jobs in the area, because, you know, outsourcing does work both ways." But Tata has since closed that office, and with it, Clinton's example that outsourcing works both ways.