Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gov cannot shrink and survive, it needs to provide more value

"To convert to new software would be a very time consuming and expensive undertaking – technical staff would have to learn how to manage the new software and make sure there weren’t incompatibilities with existing applications and services, and agency staff would have to learn all new software for word processing, spreadsheets, and the rest of the desktop and server based productivity software they use. Then we would have to make sure that we were reasonably compatible with the rest of the state and our constituents."

Unlike the writer of the FUD scare tactic rhetoric in quotes, I have a more precise counter: Switching to a free software that performs almost exactly like Microsoft Office Suite should not wreck the communications norms of state government. I worked for Microsoft as a contract engineer, using OpenOffice to open my Microsoft boss's spreadsheets, I would add data to the spreadsheets, and email back to them. The documents were then sent on to other tech teams. There was never a moment of incompatibility in the two pieces of software.

As our economy shifts to a less consumerist paradigm, and tax income for the state shifts to a smaller footprint, managers within gov achieving more on less is not an option. It is, rather, a fitness test of our time. This fitness test is nothing like the Reagan Era attempt to simply diminish gov, for in the current fitness test voters like myself want gov and its services to remain strong. Strong while living on a smaller tax income.

If managers misperceive the current fitness test as a mandate to shrink services for citizens, while maintaining their internal organizational norms, their whole edifice faces extinction.

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ZDnet.com: Washington state rejects open source.

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