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MA First, Now FOSS in Cali?

Our good friends at Mad Penguin (Christian Einfeldt in particular) landed an interview with several of the IT leads at the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

Einfeldt writes, “[The ARB] is using FOSS primarily in the back office, just like so many other governmental agencies and businesses. But if you dig just a little deeper, as shown in this Mad Penguin™ interview of the ARB staffers responsible for moving ARB toward a more FOSSy future, you can see that the seeds of more profound change gradually developing.”

Some more great quotes caught my attention. Here they are, slightly out of context and out of order:

  • “Harry is the equivalent of a skilled surgeon. When he advised that open source and Linux were working for him (CentOS or Red Hat), I had every confidence that it would work. He’s a true IT professional. And he delivered.”
  • “You are seeing a gradual sea change. It’s not radical. But the Massachusetts thing is one more example of how governments are reacting to the high cost of software when lower cost open source alternatives may exist. There are alternatives. Governments don’t want to be locked out of their data. They want some assurance that they will be able to read and own their data into the future. This is the point that Narci made earlier – sovereignty and perpetual access to content. It’s a very good point.”
  • “Obviously, if you can reduce the cost of licensing software, then the overhead of running your shop is going to be less. And because the software is stable, powerful, quite competitive with anything else on the market, when there are budget crises none of our projects are slowed or defunded. We just kept pushing forward.”
  • “We recently put a job notice out for a senior level position, and one of the things that we added to the notice was that we are an open source shop. I got a number of applications in which people said that they were willing to take a pay cut if they could come to us, because of our open source culture. So it helps us attract quality people. There are a lot of people who feel “trapped” in their organizations, and they can’t really experiment and be part of these new changes that are sweeping through the Internet. ARB can give them that opportunity.”
  • “The State CIO has set up a working group to be comprised of nine to twelve individuals, CIOs primarily, and other participants, to assess open source solutions and advise on how open source may be used within State government. The California Performance Review (CPR) had a section called “State Operation Number 10” that basically said state departments should look to open source, and to try open source where feasible, to look for opportunities to test it as an alternative to the standard procurement methods. The CPR didn’t give a preference for open source or proprietary solutions. The goal was simply to get “best value” for the State.”

In summary, Einfeldt has written a great article and found a very mature and balanced decision-making organization that continues to find value in FOSS and adopt ever more key pieces of it into their infrastructure.

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