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Despite call for open source software, SF approves $30M contract for Microsoft products

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(S.F. Examiner file photo)

San Francisco may emerge as a leader of open source voting, but at least one elected official is challenging The City to also stop using proprietary software in other areas of government.

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve a three-year contract between the Department of Technology and PCMG, Inc. for Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions and other Microsoft software products for $30 million until May 31, 2020.

Supervisor Jane Kim, along with Supervisor Aaron Peskin, opposed the contract.

“I really have been pushing our Department of Technology and The City to really consider open source for our software applications,” Kim said. “It would save our city millions of dollars and also ensure that we are not put on a leash by licensed software, which frequently dictates very long contracts and often makes it very difficult for cities to wean themselves off of this type of software ensuring that we will remain their customer for decades to come.”

The Department of Technology manages at least $280 million in city contracts for professional IT services and equipment.

While the department is facing pressure about moving toward open source, there are lingering issues plaguing that department.

A new Budget Analyst audit, requested by Peskin, found a number of significant deficiencies with the department, which is perhaps not surprising given its troubled history.

“DT’s practices for tracking and monitoring contracts are inadequate,” the audit found. “Despite prior audit findings recommending that the department put clear procedures in place, the department has yet to design and maintain a sufficient database for tracking contract information and has not created any policies for contract monitoring. As a result, at times contracts have been kept current (in terms of payment and term) by the initiative of vendors. The department’s current contract management puts The City in operational and financial risk.”

The department has also suffered from a high turnover of department heads. “The last three CIOs have had an average tenure of 1.9 years, which is less than the average CIO tenure of 2.8 – 3.9 years observed in our benchmark cities,” the audit found.

The turnover has led to poor morale in the department. “In our survey of DT staff, described below, [fewer] than half of respondents had confidence in DT’s executive management’s leadership skills and ability to execute the department’s strategic priorities,” the audit said.

The department’s interim director, Ken Bukowski, a deputy director in the City Administrator’s Office, has agreed with 13 of the audit’s 16 recommendations, including improving contracting.

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