‘Global’ lacked insight, now deserves fate

Republican lawmakers are correct in urging Gov. Tom Wolf to fire the company whose mishandling of coronavirus-related data impacted at least 72,000 people.

Beyond the called-for firing, state leaders need to take a long, hard look into the “window” that allowed the company to be hired on a no-bid basis in the first place.

Since last summer, the commonwealth has doled out nearly $29 million to Atlanta-based Insight Global to administer the state’s contact tracing program, which is aimed at identifying people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, so they can quarantine.

That is a lot of money paid out to a company that lacked the leadership, expertise and built-in safeguards to ensure that something like what happened did not occur.

Had the state insisted on awarding a contract based only on appropriate, accepted bidding guidelines — like the state expects municipalities, school districts and other government-related entities to do — the troubling situation that evolved might have been avoided.

What originally was a worthy effort with good objectives, now has been tarnished by inept oversight by Insight Global.

Then there is the question of whether the state’s governmental bureaucracy, executive branch and General Assembly should have been paying closer attention to the company’s work so that a red flag could have been raised quickly about something seemingly amiss.

Learning what happened certainly does not represent a proud moment for our state.

However, it does represent a lesson that should be heeded in the future if there is the temptation to pursue the no-bid-contract route over a more transparent bidding process involving closer study regarding what is proposed.

Even more than that, the bidding process offers the opportunity to more closely scrutinize proposals and identify potential concerns — such as requiring and ascertaining that there will be a layer of protection to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

Bidding also offers the opportunity to get more and spend less for services being sought, as bidders compete for the contract under the terms of the work outlined.

Meanwhile, news reports out of the state capital did not mention whether adequate bonding was in place to deal with any problems that might have evolved, as well as dealing with the financial implications of errors or otherwise improper conduct or procedures.

The public deserves to be apprised of such information related to the contract in question and what potentially lies ahead, whether or not Insight Global is fired. As an article in the Mirror’s May 4 edition reported, the state plans to drop Insight Global once its contract expires at the end of July. However, the company doesn’t deserve to collect any additional Pennsylvania money, if any is in fact due, because of what occurred.

The crux of what occurred was this: Insight Global employees used unauthorized Google accounts to store names, telephone numbers, email addresses, coronavirus exposure status, sexual orientations and other information about residents reached for contact tracing.

The company was bound by the requirement that it protect people’s data, but it failed miserably regarding that obligation.

The company’s apology for having mishandled the information rings hollow for the 72,000 victims, but it also should ring hollow for every right-thinking state resident who respects the expectation of people to have their important information safeguarded.

Whether or not Insight Global is fired, it deserves that outcome.


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