IT offshoring: Romney vs. Obama

A look at what will each candidate could do about IT offshore outsourcing

By , Computerworld |  IT Management, outsourcing

Romney's investment record at Bain will get scrutiny. But it's fair to point out that some Obama advisors have advocated or led firms that used offshore outsourcing.

For instance, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is headed by General Electric chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, whose company was one of the first, in 1990s, to establish a development center in India.

In 2009, Obama appointed Diana Farrell, a former director of the McKinsey Global Institute, McKinsey & Co.'s economics research arm, to the National Economic Council as a deputy economic adviser to the president.

McKinsey has long argued that offshore outsourcing brings benefits to U.S. firms.

What would either candidate do on the H-1B visa issue?

The H-1B visa is important in offshore outsourcing because the companies need access to temporary work visas to conduct work in the U.S. As may as half to 90% of offshore outsourcing company workers have such visas.

Romney's platform is clear: "Raise visa caps for highly skilled workers."

Romney sees foreign workers as critical to U.S. innovation, and doesn't draw a distinction between H-1B or permanent residency green cards.

Obama has generally avoided talking about the H-1B visa but has voiced support for making it easier for foreign students with advanced degrees to remain in the U.S. with a green card or permanent residency.

When Obama took office, the H-1B visa had become a non-issue due to the recession. For the first time since the recession started, the available H-1B visas were exhausted at a relatively rapid pace in 2012, bringing the issue back to the political arena.

However, Congress, not the president, controls the visa cap. Former President George W. Bush supported increasing the H-1B cap, but was stymied by Congress.

Whoever is elected president in November will face the same obstacle.

Computerworld editorial projects manager Mari Keefe contributed to this story.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, send e-mail to pthibodeau@computerworld.com or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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