Re-route funding used for buying proprietary works

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From a discussion about WordPress acquiring WooCommerce (noted):

This is a really smart acquisition. WordPress continues to dominate the CMS market. With the upcoming REST API, it’s only going to get better. I’m watching niche CMS industry after niche CMS industry crumble under the continual migration to WordPress.

The latest victims are the small CMS vendors who have been selling proprietary CMS solutions to public school districts for the past 15 years, charging far too much money (your U.S. taxpayer dollars!) for barely functional CMS’s. The FCC voted recently to prohibit spending federal money on these solutions, a practice that basically created the market, so now every school district in the U.S. (14,000+) are looking around for cheaper and better solutions. A large percentage of them are migrating to WordPress.

E-Rate is a major funding source for school Internet connections and is ran by the FCC. The sidebar on that article says:

“Phases out support for some non-broadband services, such as voice services; and eliminates support for others, such as email, Web-hosting, paging, and components of telephone service such as text-messaging and directory assistance.”

I’m guessing it relates to that “web-hosting” bit.


Yes, that is exactly right. Public school districts can no longer use E-Rate (federal money) funds to pay for web site hosting or web site management systems. The FCC decided to re-allocate $5 billion in E-Rate funds for a 5-year wifi roll-out plan for all public school districts.

You can read more about the FCC’s E-Rate Modernization Order:

Unlikely this order was intended to cause school districts to stop paying for proprietary content management systems and adopt free-as-in-freedom ones. But the existence of the latter probably helped make the order feasible.

Where else are taxpayers (or individuals, institutions, companies) paying for proprietary production for which reasonable or (in this case probably much better) commons-based substitutes exist, such that the funding can simply be redirected away from proprietary production and toward something else entirely, most likely something else the funding’s constituency really wants (wi-fi in schools in this case)?

I am not sure of how they are funded, and what all is involved, but a lost I saw for free software was rolling out the US health insurance exchanges. I looked it up about six months too late, but I saw that all the bids in California had been done by large firms that have their own proprietary systems.

I’ve never seen a Congress member’s website that I liked, and they should all be free software, because everything they do was figured out once we got donations over the web. It does bring up the question of how giving money works online, though.

Health insurance exchanges certainly should have been and should be required to be open source, but as a new category, I guess different from the case in this topic. However maybe they could be made to be like this topic, if a state or the federal government created an open source HIX that could then be adopted by every other state. I recall reading about some code being published and unpublished, though I can’t tell what the current situation is. Anyway it clearly would’ve been better for cost, collaboration, transparency for development to have been required to be open from the start. The method noted in this topic is just a way to back out of mistakes made from not mandating open source in procurement.

Re politician websites, my understanding is that a few companies dominate that market because they have fundraising compliance built into their solutions. Not using one of them to run a campaign website is like choosing to do a complicated tax return by hand. Unfortunately, probably as with tax software, this probably has created a constituency to lobby against open source tax/compliance software provided by the government, simplification of rules, or both. I doubt it is likely the method noted in this topic could be applied because software that one can depend on for compliance is a big hurdle and there’s no demand from other sectors, like there is for school CMSes, i.e., CMSes. OTOH, the amount of “funding” to be redirected to other useful activities, at least in the case of expenditure on tax compliance, is huge. But the beneficiaries of that redirection are diffuse, not a concentrated interest that can bargain for something else it wants – that’s the other key thing in the method noted by this post, in addition to the existence of an as good or better free solution.

But this makes me think of another method, independent of procurement or procurement backfill: regulation regulation. Why shouldn’t any regulation (tax and campaign finance are examples, but there are many) have to come with open source compliance software before going into force? Surely this has been proposed somewhere already. I’d love pointers.

One of the main US political campaign solutions, NationBuilder, is apparently branching out into other types of CMS and CRM websites. Competition? WordPress.

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