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