The City of Memphis awarded a $42.1 million contract for outsourcing the Division of Information Systems to Systems and Computer Technology Corporation (SCT), ending a ten-month search. Mayor Willie Herenton announced the decision to City Council members Tuesday in a session marked by unusual secrecy plus some heated remarks from Councilman Janet Hooks. SCT, a publicly traded company headquartered in Malvern, Pa., won the bid over Electonic Data Systems and Affiliated Computer Services. Herenton said a key factor was SCTs commitment to award 10 percent of professional services contracts and 50 percent of vendor contracts to certified minority vendors. The seven-year contract should be finalized next month, according to City Finance and Administration Director Roland McElrath. Herenton had told the city council during a planning session in January that he planned to outsource the Division of Information Systems, which handles telephones and computers. He said Tuesday that it had already been outsourced Òfor all practical The mayor acknowledged that there has been intense interest in the contract award, which featured lots of lobbying of both the mayor and council members. He said that was one reason he took the unusual step of asking to be placed on the council agenda without specifying his reason. Its almost like this needed to be a secret, complained Hooks, who said she needed more information to respond to queries from her constituents. Im glad to hear that, Herenton repeated several times as Hooks continued to vent. Herenton said the contract will cost a bit more than the city had been spending in the short run but should save money in the long run. All employees in the division -- approximately 40 people -- will be hired by SCT if they desire jobs. Herenton went to unusual lengths to vouch for the integrity of the selection process. I know the various groups (that were interested), I know the rumors going around, he said. Originally there were 18 firms that expressed interest in the job. Evidently there is a lot of money on the line here, said Councilman Tom Marshall, who said the selection committee, of which he was a member, was fair. The city hired a Germantown firm, SCB Computer Technology, for $467,000 to help it evaluate the contenders. SCT, the winning firm, has nearly 3,400 employees and serves more than 2500 clients worldwide.