Treasury agency chooses costly migration to Office Professional

Despite higher software and training costs, the Treasury Department’s Financial
Management Service has decided to migrate to Microsoft Office Professional after years of
using Corel Corp.’s competing WordPerfect suite.

FMS officials chose the Microsoft suite even though the technical staff recommended
staying with Corel WordPerfect Suite 8. The migration will cost about $900,000 over two
years, said Steve Young, acting director of the Systems Management Division.

FMS’ Information Technology Review Board voted in favor of Office Professional 97
in late September, Young said. The board consists of the FMS commissioner and eight
assistant commissioners, including chief information officer Connie Craig, he said.

Several other agencies have recently adopted Microsoft software, especially Exchange,
Office Professional and Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, despite competing vendors’
eagerness to discount prices. The Air Force Materiel Command, Defense Finance and
Accounting Service, IRS, Navy and Veterans Affairs Department have all made such decisions
in the past few months.

FMS’ IT Review Board “looked at it as a corporate, strategic decision,”
Young said. Personnel who work on committees with other Treasury employees will find it
easier to share information, he said.

A small number of FMS employees already have the software, and rollout of Office
Professional 97 should be complete by December 1999, Young said. A transition to NT
Workstation 4.0 should be done by June, he said.

Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 would have cost $67 per user license vs. $144 for Microsoft
Office Professional 97, Young said. The Corel suite also bundled the NaturallySpeaking
speech recognition program from Dragon Systems Inc. of Newton, Mass., whereas Office
Professional 97 has nothing comparable.

Corel’s site licensing program would have offered premium-level telephone support
at no extra charge and one-license use for employees who install the suite on multiple
computers, such as at home or on portable PCs, so long as use is not simultaneous.

“Microsoft doesn’t want to cut any deal at all,” said Cee Cee
Lichtenstein, an FMS computer specialist, speaking before the review board’s
decision. She helped study the software upgrade issue and said FMS officials were
concerned about loss of productivity during the transition.

“I think it’s a good strategic business decision for the continuity of
business operations across Treasury and across the federal government,” Young said.


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