Thursday, February 04, 2010

Fw: [school-discuss] FLOSS, Microsoft, and Governments

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-----Original Message-----
From: Joel Kahn <>
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2010 12:42:08
To: <>
Subject: [school-discuss] FLOSS, Microsoft, and Governments

Since our discussion of Elevate America,
I have been doing some exploring. The
more I dig, the more interesting it gets.
Here are some tidbits:

In the Missouri State Office of
Administration, the Information
Technology Services Division--through its
Information Technology Education Center--
offers classes for state employees. Two of
the classes are entitled "Linux
Fundamentals" and "Advanced Unix/Linux."
The Education Center also has a library of
technology-related books for employees to
use; two of the volumes are _LINUX User
Basics_ and _Using Linux_.

The Missouri State Public Defender System
suggests the use of OpenOffice and Google Docs.

Several agencies of the Missouri state
government use GNU Mailman.

The entire web site of the Missouri Public
Service Commission is built with Plone.

The Missouri State Library heavily uses Drupal.

For retailers who need to handle confidential
lottery information, the Missouri Lottery System
advises using GNU Privacy Guard.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and
Secondary Education (DESE), in its periodic
newsletter, has had stories on both the K-12
Linux Terminal Server Project and the CoSN K-12
Open Technologies Leadership Initiative. In
addition, DESE heavily relies on Moodle.

Now the punch line. From fiscal year 2000
to the present, Microsoft has received the
following amount from the Missouri state
government for software licenses, consulting,
and various other products and services:


Please note that this figure represents only
taxpayers' money that went directly to MS; to
calculate indirect costs (forced hardware
upgrades &c) would be more difficult, but it
is safe to say these have been substantial.

My sources are available upon request for
anyone who is interested; for now, I want to
do a step-by-step summary of how things look:

(1) In the Missouri state government there are
a substantial number of people who are aware
that FLOSS exists and have tried out a variety
of FLOSS programs.

(2) Some of these people have decided that
FLOSS is good enough to use in their agencies
and to recommend to users outside the government.

(3) Notwithstanding points (1) and (2), Microsoft
has a pipeline solidly plugged into the Missouri
state treasury and is consistently pumping out
hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Again,
it should be emphasized that this does *not*
include indirect costs of non-FLOSS systems.

Now a few questions:

(A) Have any parties within the FLOSS community
examined the FLOSS vs. non-FLOSS debates in the
context of the waste of taxpayers' money?

(B) What kinds of data-gathering (preferably
by students) and analysis have been done in
this area, and how recently?

(C) In this area, what contacts have been made
between the FLOSS community and potential
allies, such as activists, journalists, and
lawyers? We also musn't overlook challengers
for public office who are hunting for issues
they can clobber incumbents with.

My fellow Americans: I encourage you to put
your students to work hunting down the various
FLOSS/Microsoft/money ratios and relationships
in their city, county, state, and federal
governments. Let's see how much fun we can
have between now and the November elections.

I ask residents of other countries: what are
*your* governments up to?


1 comment:

JKA Requerme said...


I visited your blog and it is a fun page. I propose for a link exchange since my blog's niche is current events.