Health Dollars

In my last post on the Ministry of Health’s new three year deal with Microsoft I wondered whether “health dollars” were the same as real ones. Turns out they are not, more likely the inverse of real money.

According to this article “the health sector is paying slightly more for software licences under the new three-year agreement”.  But in their press release they claimed to be saving money.

So the savings from Microsoft are mythical. The only silver lining is that Microsoft is “allowing” the Ministry to transfer licences should they restructure. Welcome to the world of proprietary licensing. If someone working at a PC is transferred, with PC to a newly named organisation the licences don’t get transferred. Unless you get a special deal.

It sounds nuts because it is. We hear so much about “intellectual property” these days but what could be a starker example of how the concept fails than the idea that a software cannot be transfered with the employee or machine…or if you sell or give away a second hand machine.

“The commission [SSC] has encouraged government agencies to investigate alternatives to Microsoft products, including open-source software, but this was not an option for the sector as Microsoft is heavily embedded in its infrastructure, says Mr Hesketh.”


John Rankin writes eloquently about the Public Sector Remix project the NZOSS is running with 14 government agencies, including New Zealand Post. Whilst I am not able to name all these agencies I am able to say that the MoH did turn down an invitation to join in July last year. This is a shame as they may have gained some useful insights to their dependency as well has being able to help the other participating agencies.

That said, it is not too late to join. A few pilots are about to begin and he project will continue for as long as there is interest from its participants.

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