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Govt should follow DHB lead on software

6 April 2005

Govt should follow DHB lead on open source software

Green Party IT Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos is congratulating District Health Boards on their move towards adopting open source software and other Government agencies should follow their lead.

A report in the IT media today says DHBs are to trial a two-tier system, with only their most intensive software users staying with Microsoft's proprietary products and the rest going to open source, such as openoffice.org. They will also be asking makers of health-related software to develop open source versions of their products and pushing for greater representation in the Government's bulk contract negotiations with Microsoft. New Zealand's DHBs have paid Microsoft $20 million in license fees over the last three years.

"I'm sure New Zealanders want their tax dollars going into treating patients rather than building Bill Gates' empire," said Nandor.

"Open source is a more cost effective option than commercial software all round and making greater use of it in the health sector would benefit hospital staff, patients and the local software industry.

"The Government should look at why the DHBs are making this move and support other departments and agencies to follow their lead. As I have previously suggested, the Government could easily and cheaply follow Australia's lead and produce a guide to evaluating open source products alongside proprietary software.

"The IT industry and staff in forward-thinking departments are constantly saying that there is not enough awareness on the benefits and viability of open source products amongst Government officials. A guide would go a long way to overcoming this ignorance.

"While there has been gestures of support for open source from the Government, those departments and agencies that are seriously considering the move, such as the DHBs, are doing so alone," said Nandor.

ENDS

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