CAGW Criticizes Open Source Mandate in Massachusetts

Sep 21, 2005, 01:00 ET from Citizens Against Government Waste

    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