Last week the govt – through IDA – announced a S$2.2b procurement plan for IT and from it S$1.5 to go to standardizing the government desktop computers.
The following from Business Times of May 2nd says:
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"So - a crucial consideration for any aspiring tenderee - does the government plan to choose any one operating system (OS) and make that the standard across all desktops in different government departments? Ms Wu said the government's thinking in this area is that at the end of the day there could be multiple OS's in various government departments. 'We have not decided whether it is going to be Microsoft, Linux or open source, it will always boil down to total cost of ownership (TCO); we will remove ourselves from that kind of debate,' Ms Wu commented. 'We actually are not doing this project coming with a predetermined idea of what the technology should be; we are very much driven by what the users' needs are.'"
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I sincerely hope this means that Linux will be a solution on the desktop. A move by the Singapore government desktop to Linux will mean that finally, the SG govt can join the rest of the world in doing the Right Thing. We have to ensure that no unwarranted tax is continued to be levied and continued to be honoured – and therein lies the Singapore Dilemma – this country can afford to pay the tax! That means that, frankly, it is not a really a cost issue that should be deciding the choice. Since TCO is mentioned as the yardstick, I think it will be prudent for the IDA to publish what it thinks is its TCO – it is afterall considering spending S$1.5b of tax payers monies. Transparency in that is very critical. I am hoping that the TCO formula will include the cost of not having a domestic open source capability. We have to promote the local ICT industry and going with open source and Linux is the best way to do that.
I hope the IDA will be reading and analysing the document from the Australian Government Information Management Office that put out, today, a document entitled “A Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies”.
For the sake of Singapore and for it to continue to be relevant to the world, pleasedo the Right Thing, IDA. We are continuing to be the butt of jokes for being a Microsoft country – and we can take care of it in a bold, visionary and above all, pragmatic initiative.
[Thank goodness Mindef has already done the RIght Thing]