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  • up on some of the places who have started to use OSS in government with some real, hard numbers to back up the cost savings claims? Aside from the obvious savings of the initial purchase cost, all software costs real money in terms of training and support. I don't much care for M$ but the OSS zealotry has gotten a lot worse in the last few years, to the point of being very unappealing to many people. 50 different support contracts vs. 1 is not compelling either.

    In the short term, it is highly unlikely th

    • by ziggy (25) on 2003.05.11 16:46 (#20008) Journal
      has anyone ever followed up on some of the places who have started to use OSS in government with some real, hard numbers to back up the cost savings claims?
      Yes, many times, in many different angles. Off the top of my head, I can recall summaries from the State of Rhode Island, the State of Hawaii, the State of Utah, multiple offices within the US Federal Government, the Army Corps of Engineers, a few municipalities in Colorado, some mental health hospitals in Ohio, and numerous parts of the Department of Defense. There have also been studies in Europe, and the Bundestag is well-known for its support for open source.

      In most of these cases, costs (or cost savings) were not the primary issue, because many of the individuals involved these projects did not have the budget to justify purchasing software. In other cases, time to develop was a key factor, and not waiting for a procurement cycle to use Perl, PHP, Linux or MySQL actually helped finish the project on time. Another batch of cases involve open source capabilities or cross platform portability; it's certainly more cost effective do develop on Windows/Linux and deploy on Solaris because (1) all of the hardware is paid for and (2) open source packages run on all of the relevant platforms. And then there are the cases where there is simply no other tool like Perl when managing a system or a network.

      Many people that are advocating open source in government from the inside are citing these success stories because they prove that open source works, and specifically that it works in government settings. And, yes, in many of these situations, using open source did result in thousands of dollars saved in software procurement. In other situations, the software costs were moot because the agencies involved already had site licenses for Oracle/Solaris/Microsoft products, but using tools like Perl, Apache and MySQL sped the development process along (leading to thousands of dollars saved in labor costs).

      Finally, most of the open source advocates within government are not preaching the simpleminded "open source doesn't have an acquisition cost" mantra. Rather, bills like the one that was killed in Oregon are necessary in some scenarios because IT budget policies are written with the implicit assumption that all software has a purchase price. (One local Federal Contractor [] put a $1 CD on the Federal Schedule so he could "sell" the tools in his software stack to develop customized solutions for Federal agencies.) So the issue isn't trying to force open source where it doesn't belong because of misguided zealotry, but rather to rationalize procurement policies to reflect the new realities in software purchasing today.

      • Where are all these studies? Have any of them made the numbers publicly available along with their methodology?

        I still think proposing bills forcing choice or usage of any kind of software, even OSS, couched as 'advocacy' are an extremely poor choice. Correcting the present policies would be a more sane and 'democratic' alternative. Policies are not laws. You cannot litigate choice.

        It's doubtful that the problem is ultimately about money rather power.