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If you need an independent set of standards, then ISO/IEC 27002:2005 -- the Code of Practice for Information Security, is a good place to start. The information security guidelines and principles can be used as a checklist to determine the weaknesses in a company's general security posture.
You also need to ensure the contract gives you the right to audit and penetration test the infrastructure, processes and procedures.
If your proposed outsourcing partner is not able to respond proactively when you talk about security and audits, then you may wish to look elsewhere.
This was first published in May 2009