LA NOT going Open Source?

Back in February we applauded Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Jack Weiss when they announced a plan to convert much of the cities software to Open Source. This was an amazing and forward thinking move that was noticed by a lot of people. Well, I haven’t heard much about it since and just got an e-mail basically saying that Eric Garcetti is no longer on the committee and that the plan has been scrapped by the new people in charge – with what appears to be no research into the situation at all.

The extended entry of this post contains an e-mail sent from Linux advocate Robin Rowe to the new Council Chair Janice Hahn’s legislative director Jenny Chavez and is packed full of info and details. This not was sent to me and a hand full of other people this morning, perhaps in efforts to get the word out about the program scrappage. Keep reading for more.


To: “Jenny Chavez”
From: “Robin Rowe”

Jenny,

Thank you for meeting with me last week so I could brief you on
opportunities for the city to realize cost savings through Open Source
Software (OSS) and Linux. I hope you are able to bring the relevant facts to
the new ITGS chair Janice Hahn. You said you would wait to proceed until a
report from ITA was in committee, but since speaking to you I’ve found out
that a report has already been filed:

http://clkrep.lacity.org/councilfiles/05-0182_rpt_ita.pdf

Although this report is dated March 17th, nobody from the city had told me
it existed until now. You may not have seen it either. I know you’re busy so
allow me to highlight what the report says.

The city is using open source software now, but ITA doesn’t think Linux can
save any money. From the report, “Due to the way operating systems are
licensed, there has not been any cost savings in using Linux and ITA would
not expect there to be cost savings in the future.” This opinion stands in
contrast to the experience of the City of Garden Grove that saved over $300k
in their conversion to Linux. Of 37 city departments that ITA surveyed, 22%
reported open source usage. (The number stated in the report is actually
negative — as 78% not using open source.) The report further states, “Linux
is used by 3 Departments with 2 additional Departments in the process of
evaluating its use.”

The stated recommendation of the report is that, “ITA work with the Mayor,
City Council, and City Departments to identify specific pilot projects in
which to evaluate whether there would be cost savings.” As you know, the OSS
pilot project ITA has recommended and has underway is limited to a few
copies of OpenOffice for Windows. This plan seems to differ from the
ambitious goals outlined in the ITGS press release of February 2, 2005, and
the ITGS motion itself:

http://www.lacity.org/council/cd13/cd13press/cd13cd13press13227121_02022005.pdf
http://www.boingboing.net/2005/02/02/_la_city_councilman_.html
http://www.boingboing.net/images/OpenSourceMotion.pdf

Speaking of Garden Grove, I heard today from City of Garden Grove IS Manager
Charles Kalil. He says, “We continue to use and have success with OSS.” He
says that his whitepaper is a bit dated now, but still shows how extensively
they use OSS:

http://www.ci.garden-grove.ca.us/departments/admin_services/linuxwpaper_html

You’ve said that ITGS is too busy with more pressing matters to give OSS
much attention before November. I was invited to speak as an OSS expert at a
city hall hearing on February 22nd, 2005. Many in the open source community
have been waiting since February to hear how the City of Los Angeles is
proceeding with its open source initiative. I’ll let everyone know about the
city’s IT department report and progress to date.

Thanks for your interest Jenny.

Robin
——————————————————————-
www.LinuxMovies.org – Motion picture technology and Linux

5 Replies to “LA NOT going Open Source?”

  1. This defies logic. Therefore, Occam’s Razor suggests that someone is getting paid.

    Does anyone want to follow the money from soe councilmember (certainly NOT Eric Garcetti, who is awesome to the max) to Microsoft? Or maybe Sun?

  2. Sean’s suggesting a bias I don’t have in calling me a “Linux Advocate”. And, no plan has been officially scrapped or even been changed that I can see. The city council tasked the IT department to study OSS to look for innovative ways to cut the IT budget. If IT succeeds at finding any savings the reward will be a funding cut to give the money to another department (police). This is the same plan put in motion in February and makes the same sense today as it did then.

  3. I hardly think I’m suggesting a bias. You have a website called http://linuxmovies.com that seems to be advocating the use of Linux – regardless anyone who has a website with a brand name in it that isn’t followed by the word “sucks” could be considered an advocate.

  4. Sean, whether you’re mislabelled me is hardly the material point. The council could have ordered budget cuts and compelled IT to move to OSS in February. By passing a motion to study OSS by the department least likely to embrace it, some politicians have had the benefit of positive PR without really doing anything.

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