Cover Oregon Should Have Used Open-Source Software: Guest Opinion

John Miller | Oregon Live | March 3, 2014

To me, guest columnist Charles Jennings accurately represents the old school IT mentality - "No one ever got fired for buying IBM."  I couldn't gather from his essay whether he knows anything about modern software development methodology. The last time I checked, there was no off-the-shelf software ready to be purchased anywhere for implementing Cover Oregon, or Obamacare, etc.  "Find the best existing commercial technology solution for what you want and sign up for it," he recommended. If it were only that simple.

Instead of spending money on proprietary systems from Microsoft, Oracle, or IBM, the Cover Oregon system should have been built on the same open source components that run most every successful site on the internet. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, et. al. did not go out and buy software. They built it the old fashioned way, out of free parts.

People should be asking why states didn’t partner up on this using an open source model of development. Why do states and cities have to purchase systems for 10s or 100's of millions of dollars?  How many water billing systems are out there in the United States?  Can't we collaborate and come up with a couple good ones?  What did Kentucky do right?  These are the questions we should be asking.