[vox-outreach] CPR meeting report

Henry House hajhouse at houseag.com
Tue Sep 28 09:14:23 PDT 2004

Emily Stumpf, Joseph Arruda, Jonathan Stickel, Greg House, and I went to the
Calfornia Performance Review (CPR) meeting yesterday at the UC Davis
Recreation Hall to show support for the pro-open-source-software
recommendations in the CPR report. (See the end of my message for that.) We
arrived well before the doors opened and I was one of the first to submit a
comment card to obtain a 3-minute speech to the commission. I also turned in
a written comment (in letter form), signed by myself, Emily on behalf of
LUGOD, and Greg House.

The meeting got off to a slow start. The topic of the day was State boards
and commissions. The CPR report proposes dissolving about a third of the
State's boards and commissions. Since the public comment-period was not
scheduled until 16:00, we left to do some work.

Emily, Jonathan, Greg, and I returned at 3:30. The public-comment period
began late, around 4:20. The CPR commissioners made no effort to call
speakers in the order that they submitted their comment cards, instead
choosing particular issues, starting with State boards and commissions.

Nearly all the speakers were members of the boards that were recommended to
be dissolved.

It quickly became clear that the CPR staff had not done a thorough job
researching their recommendations. They did not talk to the members of the
boards and commissions that they recommended dissolving.  In many cases they
made gross factual errors in their analysis, such as mis-reading the
statutes that governed a board, failing to understand the purpose of a
board, or attributing a cost savings to eliminating a board that was
actually funded privately or by the federal government. It appears from this
that the CPR staff rushed their work and as a result did an unmethodical and
in some cases completely faulty analysis.

This went on until about 17:45, by which time most of the CPR commissioners
and audience had left. (Probably they despaired of ever being called to give
their comments.) The closing time was 18:00.

By then it was obvious that the members of the public who came to speak were
not going to be called at all, so people started lining up behind the
microphone unbidden. By this time speakers were being given only four
sentences to make their points rather than three minutes.

I was the very last speaker and all I got to say was: "I am representing the
Linux Users' Group of Davis, reresenting over 200 open-source-software users
in Davis. We strongly support recommendation SO10 in the CPR report. Using
open-source software can save the State a lot of money."

To our great surprise, several members of the CPR staff came up to us after
I spoke and thanked us for voicing our support for the OSS recommendation.
They said that it is one of the most controversial recommendations in the
entire report. They collected a copy of my 3-minute speech that I was not
able to deliver and encouraged me and LUGOD to submit detailed written
comments using their website. They also mentioned that they build their web
comment-taking system using open-source software.

This really cheered us up after an otherwise dissapointing day. I want to
urge all of you to submit written comments of any length expressing your
support for OSS before the 30 September deadline. Feel free to base your own
letters on ours.


   Linux Users' Group of Davis
   PO Box 837
   Davis, CA 95616

Dear California Performance Review Commission:

We are here today to show our support for recommendation SO10 of the CPR
Report, titled, "Explore Open Source Alternatives". 

This recommendation asks the State to consider software solutions that are
open-source in cases where open-source products show a better
cost-effectiveness and meet the technical and usability requirements of the

We use open-source software in our businesses and research, both in the
back-office and on the desktop. We can personally testify to the reliability,
robustness, and cost-effectiveness of open-source software.

Open-source software has already clearly shown a superior capability for
back-end areas, such as mail and web services, the Internet's domain-name
system, and high-level computing for scientific research. The number of
applications for regular users has grown immensely over the years as well, and
now includes adequate and sometimes-superior alternatives for major office
programs such as word processing, graphics, analytical tools, and even web
browsing. All of these areas were until recently believed to be exclusively
owned by proprietary closed-software vendors.

Alternatives to Microsoft Windows, such as Linux, the BSD system, and Sun's
flagship operating system, Solaris, are industry-tested platforms that are used
as a mission-critical part of major industry players like IBM, HP, Sun
Microsystems, Oracle, Google, Yahoo, E-Trade, Apple, Pixar and many others; as
well as government entities such as various National Laboratories, the NOAA,
the DoD, NSA, NASA, the DOE, FAA and large government contractors like
Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and MITRE.

These companies and agencies all use open-source software because it is
reliable and the most cost-effective tool for the job.

An alternative to Microsoft Office, called OpenOffice, is part of a normal
business day at Verizon and backed by Sun Microsystems, and it's in use in many
public schools and even in some government entities such as the City of Austin,
Texas.  We wish also to mention the database program PostgreSQL, written at
U.C. Berkeley, which has been hailed as the open-source answer to an enterprise

These are only a small sample of the many open-source programs that are
available out there today, many of which are solid foundations that make up the
Internet and run the majority of our Universities and corporate environments.
We use open-source software everyday, when we run web searches through Google,
when we write e-mails through Yahoo, and when we order books from Amazon.com.
It's time to bring much of these time-tested and proven programs into our
State, where they will serve us well and provide savings that can be passed to
the taxpayer.

In fact, some forward-thinking State departments, like the Franchise Tax Board,
are already using some open-source software and saving money.

Open-source software excels in resistance to viruses and hackers, flexibility.
and support. Many enterprise-ready open-source products are available from
multiple vendors, which means that the State can get multiple bids to keep
costs down. Companies that offer open-source products include big names like
IBM, HP, and Sun, as well as many smaller businesses.

Lastly, I wish to note that Open-source software can be used with proprietary
software to combine the strengths of both where appropriate.  For example,
State agencies could save money by running Linux on their database servers
instead of Microsoft Windows while continuing to use their existing Oracle

In summary, we strongly support recommendation S010 ("Explore Open Source
Alternatives") in the CPR report. Open-source software offers options that are
robust, secure, and highly cost-effective. Using open-source software widely
will directly save the California government money, while also helping to
accomplish the other goals in the CPR report of modernizing and overhauling the
State's information technology.

Thank you for your time.


Henry House
Vättar Group http://www.vattar.com

Gregory A. House
House Agricultural Consultants

Emily Stumpf
Linux Users' Group of Davis
(representing over 200 private, academic, and business users of open-source
software in Davis, Sacramento, and the surrounding region)

Henry House
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