WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today criticized a plan in Massachusetts to force all state computer networks to move to an open source format. The Massachusetts Information Technology Division is proposing the Enterprise Information Technology Architecture technology policy, which would mandate that state agencies use only open source and open standard software by January 1, 2007. "It is bad procurement policy for any state to unilaterally lock itself into one set of technologies," CAGW President Tom Schatz said. "Agencies should be able to accept bids from any company that can provide the desired product or service. Government earns the best value for taxpayer dollars through a competitive, transparent, and accountable bidding process." The policy of standardizing OpenDocument Format for state agencies is aimed at avoiding the patents and licensing of proprietary software like Word Perfect, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office. However, the switch could incur additional costs: Converting more than one million current files to the open source format; teaching and training a new technical support staff to provide state workers with assistance on the new systems; and re-training the entire state's workforce to use the new software. Furthermore, private sector businesses and average citizens could face compatibility problems in exchanging documents with the state agencies. "The proposed shift in software will be paid for by the taxpayers, businesses, and regular citizens of Massachusetts," Schatz continued. In July, 2004 the Office of Management and Budget stated that the federal government should keep its options open and assess the total cost of ownership when determining the best software to use. An objective look at the merits of software considers maintenance, functionality, performance, and security -- factors not always considered in procurement decisions based solely on a licensing or development model. "By rushing to establish an arbitrary preference for open source, Massachusetts is undermining free market competition and driving up costs. This will limit choice and access to whatever proprietary technologies may emerge in the coming years and could adversely affect the day-to-day operations of Massachusetts state government. Gov. Romney should take steps to keep the state from making the wrong decision about the future of its use of technology," Schatz added. Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
SOURCE Citizens Against Government Waste