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Newham has a cow over Microsoft MOU

Read it for yourself
Mon Apr 21 2008, 18:59

NEWHAM LONDON Borough Council has refuted claims that its 2004 memorandum of understanding with Microsoft has failed to meet its key performance target.

The INQUIRER can clean up any remaining confusion by publishing the original MOU.

Richard Steele, CIO at Newham, defending his council's decision to favour Microsoft over open source software, told CIO magazine today that the original MOU had not been scrapped, it was just being reviewed.

Yet he told the INQUIRER on Friday that the MOU had been scrapped and a new one drawn up.

He refused today to publish the second MOU, drawn up with Microsoft after the first 10-year agreement was scrapped.

"Concerning the MOU, on reflection, and having discussed this with Microsoft colleagues, it's confidential to us both, and I cannot let you have a copy," he said in an email.

The first MOU was published under Freedom of Information laws that clearly gave no credence to the confidentiality claims.

However, the FOI request did refuse to publish the amount of public money Newham spent with Microsoft.

After the INQUIRER published details of the deal's failure, Steele told CIO magazine: “Our commitments under the original MOU have been fulfilled, bar one, the benchmarking against other cities with Microsoft accounts.”

Yet the original MOU specified that the Microsoft deal would bring Newham into the top 10 per cent of councils in the UK, as recorded by the independent performance measures of the Audit Commission. On this measure it failed.

These were the terms by which Newham's elected council accepted the Microsoft deal in 2004 against the recommendation that open source software would give it better value for money in the long run.

Failing also to have met its other key performance criteria, the council has been unable to demonstrate that the original decision was merited.

The MOU required Newham to design with Microsoft a benchmarking methodology that would demonstrate the benefits of using the vendor's software. This work has not been done yet.

However, Newham has supplied the INQUIRER with internal studies that it says do demonstrate that its decision to commit to Microsoft was justified. The studies were performed by Socitm, a private public sector consulting firm of which Newham COI Steele is a vice president. the INQUIRER will report on these findings in due course.

Meanwhile, the original MOU is enlightening. As well as claiming the deal would enable Newham to achieve high rankings in Audit Commission assessments, it committed Newham to moving all "competitive technology" to Microsoft, regardless of the feasibility of such a move.

It also required Steele to promote Microsoft software.

See attached file: Memorandum of Understanding.doc µ

 

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