At the beginning of the 2010 Hawaii Legislative session, with the State facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, I wrote a five-part series for our Legislature and for our tech community. The purpose was to demonstrate simple procurement decisions, and abuses, that subsidized technology-driven jobs in locations other than our own economy.
Saying Yes to Changes
Saying Yes to the offer from Google to provide free email, calendering, messaging, documents, and more as part of its Google Apps for Education suite can save the State 50 million dollars. Google made this offer to the DOE and to the University of Hawaii in March of 2009. While some schools have voluntarily adopted this service, the DOE and the University of Hawaii have not.
What this means is that a Tech Coordinator at a school in your District is spending $10,000 on a Sun server to host the email application they then license from IBM. Meanwhile, both the DOE and the University of Hawaii seek taxpayer dollars to house and license the server farms, euphemistically called 'the cloud', to host the same email applications that schools are buying servers for. This epitomizes procurement abuse. Perhaps you will ask yourself, the BOE, or a teacher or principal from your district the following:
- Why is my school paying $10,000 from a single-sourced vendor to buy a Sun server for email when Google offers if for free?
- Why is the DOE paying to build, license, and support a server farm to house the Lotus Notes suite while asking the schools to buy their own servers, too?
- Why do Charter Schools have to pay the DOE $200 per Lotus Notes seat above their allotted amount when Google has offered this for free?
- Why do UH's faculty endure economic hardships while administrators overlook the free offer from Google to provide its education suite, for free?
- Why can't our students in the DOE and UH have a perpetual portfolio of their work, ported from school to school, as the free offer from Google facilitates?
- Why are schools waiting weeks, and even months, to get a Lotus Notes email account when the same critical services are available now from Google?
- Why are employees such as the SASA and CSD staff spending time issuing Lotus Notes accounts when this is already done, and free, from Google?
- Why is the Hawaii Legislature paying to license software and hardware to host its email, documentation, and collaboration software when superior services can be provided at $50 per person per year?
- Why are the staff currently managing the email and collaboration software for the DOE, UH, and the Legislature not using their knowledge to build the expertise and functionality of the teachers, legislative staff, and administrators all who wish they knew more and could do more but can't get the training?
- Why are we asking taxpayers to consider taxing bottles or raiding a rainy day fund when Google just offered us 50 million dollars?
As a citizen, you are empowered to demand real numbers and accountability both from the DOE and the University of Hawaii. These entities, and not tourism, are the real engines of our economy. They need every dollar possible for humans and jobs rather than licenses and unnecessary hardware.
2010 R. Scott Belford.
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