[nSLUG] local ns e-govt and oss???

Bob Ashley ax386 at chebucto.ca
Thu Feb 17 16:15:44 AST 2005

Thanks for the insights of this analysis. All poignant, all relevant, 
some critically motivating. May I cite you? All would be cast in a 
positive light of 'concerned, informed, critically astute' citizen, 
something like that.

M Taylor wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 17, 2005 at 06:40:24AM -0400, Bob Ashley wrote:
>>NSLUG Pundits,
>>I'm doing a policy paper which will explore the idea of municipal 
>>egovernment in NS looking at open source software (oss), perhaps as a 
>>pilot project. If report looks plausible, I'll submit it to Service Nova 
>>Scotia and Municipal Relations and Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.
>>Any opinions, comments, guffaws, sneers, cheers?
> The first thing to realise is the that the upfront license fees are non
> issues (in my experience), it is the long term maintance part of the lifecycle
> that concerns you. 
> What benefits I've seen are 
>  a) preventing vendor/contract lock-in - governments dpt/agencies always seem
>         to be being ripped off by vendors, partly this is caused by the locked-in
>         effect (it is or is preceived too expensive to migrate) 

Accountability, transparency, inertia, monitoring problems. Well put.

>  b) lack of time/effort spent doing procurement of software and upgrades, and lack of
>     having to audit / or enforce license audit results (remove unlicensed software,
>     buy more licenses to cover Office on the intern's PC)

Efficiency, effectiveness, waste.

>  c) freedom of in-house IT staff to do more, "empowering" IT staff rather than
>         rely upon contractors or vendors continuiously.

This one would have escaped my notice, but it's very important. In fact, 
the new rhetoric of public management keys in on 'empowerment', trying 
to get away from hierarchical centralized management.

> The issues:
>  a) Overly cautious managers afraid of going with non "corporate standard" solutions.
>      This hearlds back to the "no one ever got fired for buying IBM"
>      school of thought from weak management. In reality, private sector simply 
>      wants results.

This might be a BINGO! Perhaps the most important of the 'soft issues' 
you underline below.

>  b) In-house staff are often Microsoft (or other legacy software) trained and
>      do not have a culture of change / adapting to new systems/ software.

Progressive, flexible change management a must.

> I think it is entirely possible for a quality IT manager especially if the current
> staff is not afraid (feels more valued/empowered, thinks it will make their lives 
> easier) to pull it off, but I wouldn't want to try with a new or weak IT manager. 

An HR challenge.

> The best way to implment is by small stages. I've heard of small office "unofficial"
> success stories of curing a chronic problem by introducing a FOSS solution like
> replacing a underpowered IIS server with Linux on the same hardware running Apache,
> squid (what seems like faster Internet access for free!). This helps to gain
> confident in OSS without spending money, and that envoke confident in non
> technical management.

This is a cogent recommendation, highly quotable!! I had thought of 
small-is-best, but not alongside the key concept of 'confidence 
building'. The success or failure of a  pilot project would probably 
pivot around confidence building.

> IMHO the concerns are "soft-skill" issues, not technical differences.

Yeah, this is always a thorny issue in policy circles, which is why the 
favorite problems of bureaucracies are 'technical' ones. You can look 
busy, get things done, solve problems, even if their salience is wonting.

Thanks again! Lots of food for thought here.



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