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The new year brought a new contract between USF and security officer contractor AlliedBarton. The signed document reveals the true worth of the relationship, which began in late 2007.

When it was reported that AlliedBarton would be working with USF, the contract was said to be worth around $200,000. There were many who believed the figure provided by USF regarded only the final months of the calendar year. However, obtaining a copy of the contract proved to be difficult – the copy used by both the Oracle and University Police was provided by the St. Petersburg Times. Ken Gullette, USF’s director of media relations, doesn’t recall receiving UP’s request for the document.

The fears of those who believed that the true financial value of the contract was much greater than initially stated were realized when it was learned that the contract for 2008 would cost USF more than $1 million.

Not only was the timing of the decision to subcontract security controversial since it came as a surprise in the middle of prolonged contract disputes between UP and USF, it now seems as if the financial obligation may be a burden to the University.

In light of the budget constraints that USF faces in 2008 and beyond, it seems as if it may have been a costly move to give funds to a private company instead of putting them toward the UP contract that was hindering departmental growth. While Gullette states that those funds would not be properly used for salary, they could have been used toward purchasing TASERs or updating equipment.

But there are other burdens placed on USF by using AlliedBarton. The resources of UP, already stretched thin, are being used to oversee the unarmed security guards and handle their calls. Money spent improving one system instead of bringing two separate entities together would have allowed for more immediate returns and less waste.

While the contract is thorough and AlliedBarton provides training and drug screening, there are a few items that are still expected to come out of USF’s pocket should they desire additional services – the most notable of which is testing for HIV/AIDS in security guards and potential candidates.

When confronted with growing concerns regarding safety, USF decided to complicate matters by creating new departments and positions and hiring outside sources when it already had a police department in place. Now that a new contract has been tentatively agreed upon, it remains to be seen whether or not wise decisions were made.