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Published: Friday, 6/30/2006

Konop urges county to use free software


Lucas County commissioner candidate Ben Konop wants the county to replace its licensed software with free, open-source programs, claiming that the shift would save taxpayer money and improve the area s reputation.

If Toledo and Lucas County embraced this issue, it would put them on the cutting edge of technology, said Mr. Konop, a Democrat.

Swapping conventional word processor, spreadsheet, and e-mail applications for open-source alternatives would reduce county expenditures and provide greater security, Mr. Konop said.

The county general operating fund has bought 52 servers and 2,100 desktop computers, all of which run more than 2,000 software programs responsible for tasks such as payroll and processing convicts through the judicial system, according to the Lucas County Information Services 2005 annual report.

Software licensing expenditures were not listed in the report because the different county agencies budget for their own applications.

As a result, the information services division does not have a total figure for annual software expenditures, said Keith Fournier, the county s chief information officer.

The level of complexity and integration among programs makes implementing an open-source system impossible, said Lucas County Auditor Larry Kaczala, who runs the information services division.

You re going to have to dismantle the county s entire IT system, which I can t do because I can t let the prisoners out of jail, Mr. Kaczala said. I d be happy to have Ben come in and give him a tour of our systems bring him up to speed.

It will take at least a decade before the county could transition to open-source applications, Mr. Kaczala said.

The Republican auditor is putting politics ahead of taxpayer savings, responded Mr. Konop, who added that the state of Massachusetts and multiple European cities are migrating to open-source based platforms, such as Linux.

Toledo Councilman George Sarantou, the Republican candidate for county commissioner, pointed out that the auditor and his staff manage all information technology, not the three county commissioners.

I would rely on the professionals we ve hired who do this for a living, Mr. Sarantou said. They do this every day. They know our technology needs.

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