[K12OSN] OT: Required use of IE by State DOE

Vince Callaway vince at totalsense.com
Thu Mar 15 17:20:54 UTC 2007

A little over 10 years ago I served as an aide in our states Senate.
The Senator I worked for was an old friend and technically pretty savvy.

One of the bills he introduced was a somewhat insignificant sounding bit
of legislation.  It was to allow the states archivist to store documents
on CD-ROM.  There was an amazing amount of fighting over the wording.

We of course wanted to make sure that the storage was non-proprietary.
There were several big companies that sold specialized systems that
certainly did not want any language locking them out.

The final bill that became law authorized the archivist to create a
committee to oversee digital document storage.  So far this has worked.

Now for my suggestion as an insider on how to deal with this.

First off as a low level state employee your opinion on this will pretty
much be ignored.  Unless you are already tight with a legislator they
probably wont give your issue much thought.  Just speaking from

Your BEST bet is to get the parents involved.  The approach is to get
the parents and students to complain that the DOE is discriminating
against low income students.  By requiring the use of proprietary
software (IE) it reduces access to only those who can afford to spend
money on MS Windows.  MAC and other users will be locked out.

Start with your Senator and Reps.  You will find it easier to get an
appoint with them than someone out of your district.

The BEST person to get the ear of will be the chair of the Senate
education committee.  I assume your state has one.  Unless they are from
your district it will be hard to get an appointment.

Get the attention of the legislative aide.  They are not only the
gatekeeper for the Legislator, they also do 99% of the work.  They will
be the one responsible for doing any research and scheduling.  You WANT
them to understand.  Your best case scenario is to get a meeting with
you, the Legislator and the lobbyist for the DOE in a room together.
Don't expect more than a 15 min appointment. 

You will probably leave the room frustrated.  The Lobbyist will probably
just give a line as to "I will look into this".  Don't get frustrated,
this is a good thing.

When a request comes from a Legislator for an agency to explain why they
are doing something it carries weight.  It will go down the food chain
to the IT guy who made the decision.  He will have to justify why the
decision was made.  A good lobbyist will insist on a credible answer.
The reason is he wants to come back and show that he has taken care of
the problem.  It gets him good ol' boy points when he comes back and
asks the state for things like more funding.

I realize this is long winded. Despite what schoolhouse rock taught us
the political process is not very simple.  It is in fact very

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