I just love this story!

“Bob” – his full/real name is not known – worked for Verizon as a software developer/programmer drawing a six figure salary and came up with a creative idea. We all know of companies who outsource their work to India and China to save money. Bob decided to take things one step further: he outsourced his own job to China without the knowledge of his employer!

The software developer, who is in his 40s’ paid a Chinese firm about a fifth of his six-figure compensation to do his job for him while he spent his working days surfing the internet.

Bob’s creative use of personal outsourcing emerged via a blog by an computer forensic investigator at Verizon. The investigator, Andrew Valentine claimed that his company had been contacted by another US-based firm, whom he does not name, who feared their systems were being hacked after noticing that someone in Shenyang, China was accessing the system.

Mr Valentine said it became apparent upon investigation that one of the company’s employees had outsourced his own job, paying a Chinese firm approximately $50,000 from his salary to write computer programs on his behalf. Bob is described by Mr Valentine as “inoffensive and quiet someone you wouldn’t look at twice in an elevator”. He would then spend his day browsing the internet, looking at sites such as YouTube, Reddit, eBay and Facebook before sending his superiors a daily status report and going home.

According to Mr Valentine: “Authentication was no problem. He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials. It would appear that he was working an average nine-to-five work day.”

He added: “Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area. All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about fifty grand annually.”

Mr Valentine said that the employee, who no longer works for the company, had even been praised for ‘his’ work.
“Investigators had the opportunity to read through his performance reviews while working alongside HR. “For the last several years in a row he received excellent remarks. His code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.”

A spokesman for Verizon confirmed that the story was true, but declined to provide further details. However there are reports that the following was Bob’s typical workday:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos
11:30 a.m. – Take lunch
1:00 p.m. – Ebay time.
2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn
4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management.
5:00 p.m. – Go home

Reports are that the other companies that Bob worked for have chosen not to publicize what happened because they are embarrassed by what transpired.

What is also interesting is the comments that were generated by this whole story. There were those that made reference to the security risks for Verizon and other companies as a result of the Chinese having access to Bob’s user id and password. Others commented on Bob’s ethics and honesty.

But there were many more like these:

“He sounds like an excellent manager to me –
1. His ‘team’ delivered what was required.
2. As a developer himself he understood what his ‘team’ were doing.
3. He found things to occupy his time rather than get in the way of the workers.
4. He kept his manager informed of progress so he wouldn’t bother them.
And the dolts sacked him”

“In a capitalist society this initiative must rate five stars. What is the fuss about, recently a CEO of one of Americas largest companies who have been avoiding paying millions of dollars tax said that it was just capitalism at work and was OK. So anything goes. How many companies out source their work to China and others without any real issues. The question is why has this guy made the news and also, presumably lost his contract.”

“Surely that guy has to be promoted to manage a division that outsources sw dev to China. It’s the thing he is obviously very good at.”

“So he managed a multi project setup, are able to communicate the requirements to remote “team members”, deals with different time zone, deliver in time, with good quality … Sounds like he was just in the wrong position.”

“Let me get this straight. When companies outsource employees, that’s just good management, but when employees outsource their companies, that’s bad? Bob deserves a raise, a promotion and a speaking tour for how to improve you personal profits.”

This cartoon strip summarizes the comments of those who are complimentary of Bob … courtesy of pcweenies.com

The thought that passed my mind is as to how many other programmers are doing the same thing without being caught …… and how many others might consider doing this given the potential rewards especially if they take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of being caught.

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