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Linux Access in State and Local Government, Part II

last modified 2006-02-22 03:47 PM

Software development issues in Texas State government - and why FOSS might be an answer.

This second installment in the series focuses on issues in the author's home state:

    The Texas State Auditor's office looked at the  
    state's21 largest IT projects; they found that  
    average project deficiency was $388,000 over budget  
    and 21 months behind schedule. Those numbers did not  
    include the cost of the TIERS project, which came in  
    $349 million over budget and 37 months overdue. 

    Budget deficits caused state legislators to  
    eliminate critical programs this year. How did the  
    Department of Information Resources (DIR) escape  
    budget cuts? License fees on $450 million servers 
    alone should be a prime candidate to look at for 

Articles that focus on TCO often downlplay the savings on licensing costs, arguing that corporations need to buy some license anyway from Red Hat or IBM or SUSE. Since support costs are almost always extra anyway (both for proprietary software and FOSS) the argument that licensing is a support cost just doesn't hold water. Apparently, therefore, in the "highly efficient" corporate world it is the CYA (cover Your Ass) mentality that demands that the IT department pay for a license, even for FOSS that can be installed license free.

But in government agencies with legislative oversight, IT departments can be forced to forego the CYA license fees and thereby save millions of dollars. Some of those savings can be applied to paying for in-house and/or consulting support staff. The rest can be applied to building more efficient IT systems on top of the more robust and safe FOSS infrastructure. A win-win situation all-around.

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