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Open Source Could Have Saved Ontario Hundreds of Millions

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the proprietary-pocket-change dept.

Software 294

Platinum Dragon writes "Ontario's auditor-general released a blistering report this week detailing how successive governments threw away a billion dollars developing an integrated electronic medical record system. This CBC article highlights an open source system developed at McMaster University that is already used by hundreds of doctors in Ontario. As one of the developers points out, 'we don't have very high-priced executives and consultants,' some of whom cost Ontario taxpayers $2,700 per day." The McMaster University researchers claim their system could be rolled out for two percent of the billion-dollars-plus already spent on the project. The report itself (PDF) also makes note of the excessive consultation spending: "By 2008, the Ministry’s eHealth Program Branch had fewer than 30 full-time employees but was engaging more than 300 consultants, a number of whom held senior management positions."

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Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701511)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Black People (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701513)

Welcome to Niggerbuntu

Niggerbuntu is a Linux-based operating system consisting of Free and Open Source software for laptops, desktops, and servers. Niggerbuntu has a clear focus on the user and usability - it should Just Work, even if the user has only the thinking capacities of a sponge. the OS ships with the latest Gnomrilla release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off of a single installation CD.

It also features the packaging manager ape-ghetto, and the challenging Linux manual pages have been reformatted into the new 'monkey' format, so for example the manual for the shutdown command can be accessed just by typing: 'monkey shut-up -h now mothafukka' instead of 'man shutdown'.

Absolutely Free of Charge

Niggerbuntu is free software, and available to you free of charge, as in free beer or free stuffs you can get from looting. It's also Free in the sense of giving you rights of Software Freedom. The freedom, to run, copy, steal, distribute, study, share, change and improve the software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.

Free software as in free beer !

Niggerbuntu is an ancient Nigger word, meaning "humanity to monkeys". Niggerbuntu also means "I am what I am because of how apes behave". The Niggerbuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Niggerbuntu to the software world.

The dictator Bokassa described Niggerbuntu in the following way:

        "A subhuman with Niggerbuntu is open and available to others (like a white bitch you're ready to fsck), affirming of others, does not feel threatened by the fact that other species are more intelligent than we are, for it has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that it belongs to the great monkey specie."

We chose the name Niggerbuntu for this distribution because we think it captures perfectly the spirit of sharing and looting that is at the heart of the open source movement.

Niggerbuntu - Linux for Subhuman Beings.

Government at its finest (4, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 5 years ago | (#29701515)

Government at its finest!

Re:Government at its finest (3, Informative)

Interoperable (1651953) | about 5 years ago | (#29701551)

This one's been a classic example of government at work. From dubiously awarded contracts and an unusually early bonus, both which contributed to the resignation (firing) of the head of eHealth, to the boondoggle in the article. This thing has been mismanaged from the get-go and it's reflecting pretty poorly on the premier and government.

Re:Government at its finest (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29701611)

Unfortunately, the corporate world works exactly the same way. Given a choice between a solution that's reasonably priced, and a hideously expensive solution that involves shady consulting companies, 9 out of 10 Fortune 500 companies will pass the buck on to an overpriced consulting firm, which recommends (surprise!) the overpriced consulting solution.

Re:Government at its finest (3, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | about 5 years ago | (#29701667)

No, it's not unfortunate. When I give money to a corporation in exchange for a product, my expectations for the money I end there. I get the item I paid for, and they get the money. If they want to spend the money on hookers and blow, I don't give a shit. There's no expectation that they'll spend the money in any particular way. It's a completely voluntary transaction.

That's not the case with the government. The government isn't selling a product. Taxes aren't voluntary. There's an expectation that tax money will be spent in a way that benefits everybody. That's the only reason we allow the government to take the money from us in the first place.

When a corporation spends money foolishly you can shop somewhere else or quit or whatever. When the government does it you're just screwed.

Re:Government at its finest (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29701709)

That's not the case if large portions of the economy are controlled by corporations that are all doing that. In theory, it might be possible for me to live and eat without ever dealing with a major corporation, but in practice it's nearly impossible to do. If anything, I see taxation by government as much preferable to de-facto taxation by corporations, since at least I have a vote in the former, and the sums are usually lower.

Re:Government at its finest (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702165)

But you can live and eat without having to deal with, for example, Tescos. You can't live and eat in the UK without dealing with HMRC. My own experience of dealing with the public versus private sector is that the private sector will deliver services quicker and better, not necessarily (although usually) cheaper.

Example; driving test. I booked it with the DSA in June. With waiting lists and delays I didn't get to take it till mid September. I failed it (which I readily admit is not the Government's fault) so I rebooked another test in mid-September. I won't be able to take that test until mid December! A private sector company that behaved like that would long since have gone bust.

Re:Government at its finest (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702175)

You are the problem and not the solution. Its people like you who feel you must have this or that widget that allow the corporations to fuck you. This isn't about food, most of which you CAN actually get locally and cheaply (most of the prices on food you can complain to your government about for it is they who set most of those prices), its about your fucking "macbooks" and "iPods" that you cant live without, the optional services you feel you cant live without, so you let them charge you $2000 for a status symbol. You get a fucking vote with corporations its in your wallet. Learn to use it instead of expecting the government to do everything for you.

Re:Government at its finest (5, Insightful)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 5 years ago | (#29701773)

Not quite so, while paying to corporations might not seem compulsory like taxes are, in many ways they are. Food for example, we all need it. It is as mandatory as taxes. Yes, with corporations you get an array of options, but the cheapest provider may still being overcharging. With government you can get an even cheaper, if not optimal price, because you have power over it. The government is like a corporation we all own.

What is the alternative? No government spending on public health? What about the fire department? Wouldn't a corporation handle it better? What about roads? What about national defense? What about the police? Should we recur to corporations for a judicial system?

If you say "no", as I hope, then you agree with government spending, we just have to figure out the bugs, because while you must pay taxes to the government, the government give you legislative representation in return, if your representation fails you that's where the problem is.

Saying the government is the problem is not constructive, because getting rid of the government is not the solution, fixing the government is the solution. It might be that a given service is not best served by the government at some point, that doesn't invalidate the idea of a government.

Re:Government at its finest (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701927)

When corporations handle who is fit to receive health care and who isn't simply look to your neighbors to the south. A large percentage of the population can't even see a doctor unless its an emergency (the law) or they get lucky and some kind doctors hold a "health fair" in the county and we are blessed to be diagnosed in barn stalls like cattle. Of course the uninsured don't even get the opportunity of having tests and treatments denied by their insurance company.

When you or others complain of your national Medicare system just look to the US as a cautionary tale of what happens when corporate profits become directly more important than peoples lives.

Re:Government at its finest (4, Insightful)

jabithew (1340853) | about 5 years ago | (#29702185)

But the government tends to ignore its voters for the most part. A private company ignores its customers at its peril. I think this is the key difference; a company owes its survival to you. The government can ride roughshod over you with no serious consequences for it.

If the cheapest provider is over-charging, then new providers will enter the market and under-cut it for more profit. Unless perhaps you're one of the people who think that profit is over-charging, in which case I suggest you read Adam Smith.

Private sector roads aren't that far out, after all the industrial road network of the UK was built privately (as were the canals and the railways; people have short memories here).

Getting rid of government is not the same as shrinking government where government is in sectors which could be better run privately. Getting rid of government entirely is a ridiculous straw-man which adds nothing to the debate.

Re:Government at its finest (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | about 5 years ago | (#29702273)

why is it that any sector could be better run privately? Please don't take this as an attack because I don't mean it as one, but I don't understand how a for-profit operation can be more efficient than a government one, assuming that we hold our governments accountable for their actions with our votes.

Re:Government at its finest (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 5 years ago | (#29702431)

Most people don't use "value for money" when they're deciding who to vote for.

They might use "lowest taxes", or they might use "best services" as criteria (and hence it's these things that politicians tend to cater for in their campaigns) but it is most unusual for a party to assume power on a platform of "We've done some research and we're pretty sure we can provide far more efficient services and deliver tax cuts into the bargain".

Watch "Yes, minister" for an idea as to why this may be the case....

Re:Government at its finest (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 5 years ago | (#29702217)

With government you can get an even cheaper, if not optimal price,

That is not the experience in the UK - with government you get massive empire building, a random definition of quality (might be high or low, but no choice) and the price rises each year regardless of external factors.

My view: it is the role of government to steer the ship of state - not to row it (Labour) or let it go which ever way the wind blows (Conservative).

Re:Government at its finest (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29701803)

Perhaps you wind up paying more for the product due to their inefficiency?

Try saying the same when you run the company that sells the reasonably priced product.

Or you work for the company that rejects the reasonably-priced option...

Or when you're a shareholder...

Re:Government at its finest (1)

the_womble (580291) | about 5 years ago | (#29702391)

What if you are a shareholder?

Re:Government at its finest (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 5 years ago | (#29702451)

The problem is when corporations get so big that they have undue influence over the government...

If there was a fair procurement process for government contracts, like there's supposed to be, such that anyone could bid and the best option wins... This wouldn't be a problem, if one corporation pisses the government money up the wall and does a poor job they lose the contract and it goes to someone better...
The trouble is, we have corrupt bloated corporations bribing a corrupt bloated government so that millions of taxpayers money flows into these corporations, who are free to be as incompetent as they want safe in the knowledge that they won't lose the contracts and will just keep getting more money.

Re:Government at its finest (2, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | about 5 years ago | (#29701893)

Every day, however, I see the opposite effect.

Yes, I'm part of a private company. We provide software services in education. And we routinely provide software that is significantly less expensive than other solutions, while being more comprehensive, integrated, and (usually) easier to use. Sure, sometimes people pick solutions based on risk abatement rather than fitness for the task, but this is by no means a certainty, even if this reality is unpopular.

Re:Government at its finest (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29701903)

Unfortunately, the corporate world works exactly the same way [wasteful like gov't].

I've worked on wasteful projects in big *private* companies also. For example, on one contract for a huge telecom, they had a team of 10 write different combinations of the same variables/factors for reports to study anomalous billing patterns. It was obvious to those of us with more experience that some meta-programming could have allowed the combinations to mostly be mere parameter changes instead of hundreds of reports with each combo hard-wired. However, they refused to pursue this idea because one programmer once tried a little bit of such in the past and got confused. They blamed it on the concept instead of the programmer. He was a productive programmer on regular stuff, just not meta concepts. Thus, they hired 10 people to hard-wire the combos instead of get about 2 guys with meta experience. We nick-named the beastly result the "Combinatron". And their documentation manager was a clunky beast also.
     

Re:Government at its finest (0, Flamebait)

GaryOlson (737642) | about 5 years ago | (#29701727)

And they wonder why citizens of the USA are fighting government run healthcare. If I have to pay excessive costs for healthcare, better to pay the drug companies than some worthless middle manager. Money spend on pharmaceuticals might actually be used to create something useful.

Re:Government at its finest (2, Interesting)

NickFortune (613926) | about 5 years ago | (#29701887)

If I have to pay excessive costs for healthcare, better to pay the drug companies than some worthless middle manager. Money spend on pharmaceuticals might actually be used to create something useful.

... or just be used to add another percentage point onto the shareholders' dividend.

At least with the government, its possible to set up a health care system where the primary aim to provide universal healthcare. With the private sector the primary aim is always going to be to make money - and I would respectfully submit that turning a profit is not always the most important consideration.

Re:Government at its finest (1)

daath93 (1356187) | about 5 years ago | (#29702205)

HAH HAH HAHAHAHA

Re:Government at its finest (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 years ago | (#29701897)

If you think that big pharmaceutical companies would actually try to CURE the very diseases they lucratively give mere TREATMENT for, then you are incredibly naive.

Case in point: The polio industry went bankrupt practically overnight once polio was cured. Sadly the market just shitcanned them when they were no longer needed, thus motivating them never to cure another disease again.

Re:Government at its finest (2, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | about 5 years ago | (#29701963)

If you think that big pharmaceutical companies would actually try to CURE the very diseases they lucratively give mere TREATMENT for, then you are incredibly naive.

It is even worse, they are very creative in proposing diagnoses to enable them to sell overpriced drugs (especially psychopharmaca) to an increasing share of the population worldwide.

I even suspect that swine-flu is artificially created to boost shareholder value.

CC.

Re:Government at its finest (1)

daath93 (1356187) | about 5 years ago | (#29702213)

kookoo....kookoo...

Re:Government at its finest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702463)

There are many other diseases to move onto. The cure for one would be a one-time windfall, sure, but it would be a windfall indeed that nobody could compete with.

It's to every other pharmaceutical company's benefit that they at LEAST research cures to the diseases where their competitors have market dominance.

Whenever I see this argument tossed around, which on slashdot is incredibly often, I marvel at the incredible attitude of "everything that I can't do is easy". This is why we "should have had" electric cars everywhere 30 years ago, the attitude of "if we can put a man on the moon, why can't we", a lot of delirious hypothesizing disguised as indisputable facts about how the world would be a far better place if this or that ultimately inconsequential thing were or were not so, and of course, why we would have cures to all of life's problems and diseases, except nobody is trying to find them.

You probably can find and cherry-pick some juicy quotes where assholes and douchenozzles in private say they really don't want a cure, because there are douchenozzles everywhere and it's really easy to get a bunch of anecdotes to extrapolate from.

I'm speaking as somebody that is all-for government-sponsored health insurance. I do think it is at least a bit odd whenever a capitalist system produces a situation where it is potentially beneficial to do a shoddy job (not just pharma but also doctors, repairmen, and consumer appliances fall in that bucket). It's a system where the only people who are financially motivated to make you well permanently are insurance companies that cannot, for whatever reason, drop you.

Re:Government at its finest (0, Troll)

daath93 (1356187) | about 5 years ago | (#29702203)

I don't want government run health care because i just don't think most of these people should have a share of MY money. I got up this morning, i went to work. I dealt with crap all damn day. I came home and cooked dinner. I wasted time on slashdot and went to bed. Why do i have to pay for the people who cant do the same thing, or worse CHOOSE not to. They can call me selfish, i call it being responsible. my motivation for going to work every day is so i don't have to live like a leach on other people.

Your subject line and comment were too repetitive (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 years ago | (#29701793)

Your subject line and comment were too repetitive!

Government run hellcare at it's finest. (1)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 years ago | (#29701899)

Fixed it for you.

HEY LIKE IT"S ALMOST 2010 SHOULDN'T WE BE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701521)

Exploring a Jupiter moon or something?

2p!!

Other places to save money... (5, Interesting)

Cruciform (42896) | about 5 years ago | (#29701529)

I worked (through a contract company) at the Ontario Ministry of Health during the Y2K crunch, doing upgrades and support, handling a small team of guys.
It was a decent place to work, but the waste is incredible. We were getting paid 18 to 20 bucks an hour, but the companies handling us were either 2 or 3 deep. And each one took a cut.
One overheard phone call indicated that the top company in the food chain was getting over a hundred dollars an hour for some of us.
And another guy who was getting paid directly was whining on the phone about only making 125 dollars an hour managing the operation... though none of us ever saw him lift a finger to actually manage anything. The managers we reported to were great though.
So the contract companies took way too much money. That was issue number one.
The other was that for the amount of cubicles they had filled, it sure didn't seem like there was enough work to keep everyone busy. And as government employees they get good pay and LOTS of vacation.
And some people were getting paid WAAAY too much for what they were doing at work. Nothing like finding gigabytes of japanese teenagers pissing on things, and bestiality porn on a directors computer.
They must have buried that little discovery because when I Googled him last he was still working there.

Of course, on the plus side, since I was one of the more experienced guys I tended to stick by the phone to manage and support the other team members, and got to read Slashdot all day between phone calls and running down to help when one of the guys ran into trouble.

I wonder if I could get back on there.... :)

Re:Other places to save money... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701557)

I worked for the same system back in '88 and I noticed that, in one of the vacant wards, Lexington Steele's [lexsteele.com] eleven inches of black manhood was turning your wife's vagina into a pink slinky.

Re:Other places to save money... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701697)

I'm Lexington Steele, you insensitive clod.

Project was a flop... open source wouldn't save it (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701755)

The project was a horribly mismanaged flop, and open source wouldn't have saved it. The problem was with the management, not the coding. An open source project with that management would still have lost the same amount of money.

Hell, people were being paid thousands just to stay on call, doing no work. How does open source fix that? It doesn't.

Loved the article's assumed correlation of open source and lower cost though...

Re:Project was a flop... open source wouldn't save (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29701941)

The same mindset that would have allowed for open source would have allowed for other "breaking the government waste" pattern activities.

Why buy and maintain MS-Office licenses when there's a better, free, alternative? Teh "Because ..." mentality.

Re:Project was a flop... open source wouldn't save (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 5 years ago | (#29702457)

The same mindset that would have allowed for open source would have allowed for other "breaking the government waste" pattern activities.

Why buy and maintain MS-Office licenses when there's a better, free, alternative? Teh "Because ..." mentality.

I'm having exactly this conversation at work right now - and the economic climate means it's a much easier conversation for me than it was 2 years ago. However, it goes something like this:

Me: Yes, could roll out Open Office to everyone. No problem. And it's free.
PHB: Good, so what do we need to consider in terms of compatibility?
Me: You'll see 95-98% MS Office compatibility easily. Of course, if you want 99-100% compatibility with MS Office, it's going to have to be MS Office. This is true for all office suites - hell, it's true between different versions of Office.
PHB: Right, so anyone who deals with outside organisations on a regular basis needs MS Office.
Me: Well, you could exchange PDFs...
PHB: Anyone who deals with outside organisations on a regular basis needs MS Office. Who else?
Me: Okay.... well, you need to consider if less than 100% compatibility with existing files is a problem. Things like spreadsheets, big fancy documents...
PHB: Spreadsheets? OK, so the finance people need MS Office. Any others?
Me: Well, engineering say that having to deal with different formats internally will be a PITA...
PHB: So we get MS Office for the engineers....
Me: Right, you do realise that there's only one license being saved now?

Re:Project was a flop... open source wouldn't save (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 5 years ago | (#29702433)

This is a _very_ valid comment.

Software by itself does not matter, be it commercial of open source. The waste is in the way such projects are handled - money that could have been spend to achieve something, goes instead to all intermediate companies. Why governement pays that? To shift blame if something goes wrong. They can say "oh, we don't know anything, we asked consultants and THEY told us to do it in this way." Consulting companies are used as a CYA device.
If money spent were private money, owner would make sure that he gets most for it.
Public money is "nobody" money and nobody puts as much attention to making most of it. People in institutions pretend they do, but as it's easy-come-easy-go, they do not care enough. Worst case the taxes will go up to cover for inefficiencies.

Governement projects are cash-cows for everyone, except citizens.

Why is this bad? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701549)

It creates jobs, doesn't it?

Re:Why is this bad? (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | about 5 years ago | (#29701717)

It creates jobs, doesn't it?

It creates positions, "job" implies doing structural investment-returning activities. I absolutely wouldn't mind doing unpaid overtime for a GOOD manager, but I'd despise it for a bad one.

Could open source really do the job? (4, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | about 5 years ago | (#29701555)

Who would have taken the politicians and IT management out for steak dinners if they would have used open source? How about the pretty power point presentations for board meetings. Don't forget the political games that had to be played between parties and in the office. Seriously, I've seen time and again when free or open source software has saved money and been a better technical solution. As a high paid consultant myself, I recommend free or open source solutions first, and only move proprietary when I have to. To make a government job work, you have to grease the wheels and pay a little politics (I meant to type play, but this seemed more apt). Any IT job is 80% politics and 20% work, that's why soft skills are so valued in the job market.

Re:Could open source really do the job? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701597)

And that, I think, is part of why the economy is taking such a beating. Too many chair-warmers engaging in petty office politics, too few people actually getting stuff done.

Re:Could open source really do the job? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29701931)

Too many chair-warmers engaging in petty office politics, too few people actually getting stuff done.

Whaddya expect from a (mostly) hairless tribe-oriented ape that happens to know how to talk?
     

Re:Could open source really do the job? (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | about 5 years ago | (#29701659)

Hm. I can't actually tell whether or not the Open Source solution actually would have been applicable in this situation. All the article states is that an open-source medical record system exists, and is used by a handful of doctors in Canada.

What is blindingly clear, on the other hand, is that the $1bn contract was horribly, horribly mismanaged.

Also don't forget that somebody had to pay for the open-source system to be developed. I somewhat doubt that anybody spends their spare time hacking away on electronic health record databases.

Barring any re-use or re-adaptation of code that might have been done by the open-source devs, the license under which the software is released would appear to be inconsequential. One of two things might have happened:

1) Ontario specified a bloody complicated piece of software to be written, which was far more sophisticated than the existing open-source solution. In other words, the cost (though high) may have been justified.

2) The open source solution was indeed adequate for Ontario's needs, and the contractor was corrupt/incompetent.

Re:Could open source really do the job? (3, Informative)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 5 years ago | (#29702107)

Also don't forget that somebody had to pay for the open-source system to be developed. I somewhat doubt that anybody spends their spare time hacking away on electronic health record databases.

Hey now - I did! :)

This was in the UK and I no longer work in the NHS. But in Primary Care (i.e. your local doctor's, not a hospital), there are a handful of providers of medical systems with a couple of really big ones (EMIS and Synergy). I have a lot of experience with Synergy and quite frankly, it's a mess. I think it got a little better, but in the modern age we could do so very much better. And it wouldn't actually take much developer resource to come up with it. I noodled around with writing an alternative one, but I simply couldn't dedicate the time. But it would have taken a small team of decent programmers (maybe four of us) around a year to make a functionally equivalent system that did the job better, was open source and a good platform on which to build further. And I could have written conversion tools for the back end databases myself fairly easily. The issues are twofold. Firstly, the perceived hassle of migrating to a new system and secondly getting the license from the UK's Department of Health. The latter would have been the showstopper. It's a Boy's Club. There are a lot of very hard-working people at the low levels of the NHS and - under Labour - quite a lot of over-spend and corruption at the top. Particularly in the area of IT.

I'm no longer in the NHS. I got fed up with the problems I had to deal with being caused at a level above where I could fix them. I would love to manage the development of an open source alternative to the existing systems though and I could do it for a tiny fraction of the budget allocated to other NHS IT projects - a sort of skunk works project.

Unfortunately, the New Labour government has been determined to do everything it can to privatise the NHS without committing the political suicide of admitting they're doing so. The damage behind the scenes to British healthcare is enormous.

Re:Could open source really do the job? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 5 years ago | (#29702117)

I somewhat doubt that anybody spends their spare time hacking away on electronic health record databases.

So hacking away at some obscure thing that no-one apart from themselves use is perfectly reasonable, but hacking away at something you think would be able to improve the world is completely unlikely?

I suppose no-one would want to work on making a completely open (source, design) and free (charge and speech) electronic voting system either - I mean, it's not like you can show up at a voting booth with your own computer and use that instead of the already provided option.

Re:Could open source really do the job? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 5 years ago | (#29702309)

No-one should use computers for voting. Only a small percentage of the population groks them well enough to audit them. Everyone understands pencil and paper.

Re:Could open source really do the job? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29702507)

Also don't forget that somebody had to pay for the open-source system to be developed. I somewhat doubt that anybody spends their spare time hacking away on electronic health record databases.

Someone had to pay for it to be written, and someone has to pay for it to be maintained, but no on has to pay for copies, which is rather the point of open source. Remember, this is a one billion dollar project. The two percent of one billion is twenty million dollars. That buys a lot of improvements to an open source project if it doesn't already do what you need.

The same logic applies to things like OpenOffice.org; if it doesn't exactly do what you need it to do, will it if you invest what you currently spend in a year on MS Office licenses? What about two years? Three? What if your suppliers and customers do the same?

Its not just Ontario. The whole of the Australia! (4, Insightful)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | about 5 years ago | (#29701559)

In Australia there is the same situation. The NEHTA is spending many millions.

Full Disclosure: I work in NEHTA as a contractor.

It is fair enough for a whole lot of Slashdot code cowboys to say "we could code the whole thing in a few months for the price of rent, pizza, internet and beer." but it really isn't as simple as whipping up some sort of web based app that talks to a central repository.

There is a whole lot of clinical systems that need to hooked together at various levels of government and private healthcare and medical records organizations. All these need to have extremely secure and have fine grained access control and to have flexible information formatting so that existing records can be imported, exported and exchanged between different systems. The platform needs to be easily scalable, easily usable, have crystal clear terminology etc. and a lot of those things require expensive consultants from their respective areas, and over the course of the project there might be a need to totally reworked because X organization was not happy with the system. Consultants cost money, and that is on top of normal costs for equipment for the organization and rental of offices in each state.

Developing an eHealth system costs money. End of story. At the end of the day it is better to roll out a eHealth system that is secure, reliable and well integrated than a system that is unreliable, unsecure and convoluted.

I also want to add that you Americans have the weirdest ideals about healthcare. ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY!!!

Re:Its not just Ontario. The whole of the Australi (5, Funny)

Cruciform (42896) | about 5 years ago | (#29701801)

Do not antagonize the crazy Americans. They may send you Celine Dion.
It took us decades to get rid of her.

Signed,
Canada

Re:Its not just Ontario. The whole of the Australi (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 years ago | (#29702259)

Developing an eHealth system costs money. End of story. At the end of the day it is better to roll out a eHealth system that is secure, reliable and well integrated than a system that is unreliable, unsecure and convoluted.

Here in the UK, the government has been putting billions into the NHS computer systems. From talking to people who work with them, the consultants responsible basically have no clue about PKI, so there goes your security. As for being reliable and well integrated, experience of past (very expensive) government IT projects makes me doubt that this is likely too.

At the end of the day, the government goes to one of the really big 2 or 3 IT companies to develop a system (I'm talking about you, EDS, Capita, etc.), get quoted a crazy amount of money, accept the quote and then watch as the whole thing becomes a disaster and goes many times over budget. Then when the next IT project comes up they go back to exactly the same company. It is true that there are a limited number of huge IT companies to choose from, but many of the IT projects could be done just fine by smaller companies, and wouldn't cost the earth, with the advantage that supporting small businesses is a Good Thing for the economy. However, the government won't use small businesses to do these jobs because doing so is seen as high risk - personally, I don't see how you can get much higher risk than using one of the big companies that seem to have a 100% record of screwing up projects. Hell, for the amount these big companies get paid, you could probably get 4 or 5 small companies doing exactly the same job as each other and then actually roll out the project that looks the most likely to succeed.

Re:Its not just Ontario. The whole of the Australi (1)

the_womble (580291) | about 5 years ago | (#29702403)

You are missing the point that a proven open source solution already existed. It was already in use.

A 10:1 consultant to employee ratio? (4, Insightful)

cygtoad (619016) | about 5 years ago | (#29701581)

...that is just insane. It is no wonder they have issues.

I currently work on and EMR for a health system and I can tell you that they are incredibly complex animals. The workflows in healthcare are complex. Successfully writing interfaces to and from these systems is near impossible (namely pharmacy systems). The best you can do is try to get a central homogenous vendor with good modules which use the same database. You need low turnover to establish and maintain EMR's and while consultants can be handy, that ratio should be flipped.

At any rate I am not dogging the McMaster's work, but there is a huge disparity between products out there. It is a little presumptous to say theirs would have been an alternative to save millions. It really has to do with the mission and the product features.

This seems to me to be just one botched project, or more likely doomed from the start.

Perfect Example (1, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29701587)

This is why I find it amusing when people say that a socialized medical system is inherently more efficient than a US-style system. Sure, in the US you have insurance companies skimming off the top and money being wasted on advertising and lobbyists ... but you don't have bureaucrats wasting billions in order to keep themselves and their buddies rolling in the dough, and billions more being wasted through sheer indifference. Or, at least you wouldn't in a purely capitalist system - I wouldn't be surprised if this type of thing was going on with Medicare on a regular basis.

Re:Perfect Example (4, Insightful)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | about 5 years ago | (#29701595)

No, the US system is still crap nonetheless. And it isn't like private healthcare is not around when there is a socialized system anyway. You get a choice.

Re:Perfect Example (3, Informative)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29701601)

And it isn't like private healthcare is not around when there is a socialized system anyway. You get a choice.

Not in Canada you don't. The only way for me to have a choice is to go to another country.

Re:Perfect Example (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29701621)

In most socialized systems, like France's, you do have a choice. So that's an argument against Canada's unusual system, not against socialized medicine in general.

Re:Perfect Example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701839)

Seriously. It's like Canadian's think they invented socialized medicine or something. Pretty much every industrialized country on the planet other than the U.S. has a socialized healthcare system. Canada just has a poorly implemented system.

Re:Perfect Example (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701991)

Same in Finland - you have a choice.

Just for the record - most of the employed people have medical care contracts on *private* docs, and that's where most of the population visit. Actually that's what I've always used here, so far :-) But knowing that if I need some surgery or lose my job, I won't die because I couldn't afford some 200 000USD operation or insurance company pissed me in the eye. And I don't have a damn thing against paying taxes for giving that opportunity for other people too.

I just don't understand why Americans are so much against public health care. It's a necessity in my eye. Just like libraries and education. Goverment should provide the essentials for living (education and health care). I couldn't sleep my nights if health care would be in hands of private companies only. Sick, twisted world image for me.

Re:Perfect Example (2, Insightful)

jeffstar (134407) | about 5 years ago | (#29701627)

actually there are private clinics you can go to for some things

Re:Perfect Example (3, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29701753)

actually there are private clinics you can go to for some things

Acupuncturists and Chiropractors don't count as "private clinics". If I wanted to see frauds and charlatans, I'd go to a carnival.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

josh82 (894884) | about 5 years ago | (#29701857)

"Acupuncturists and Chiropractors don't count as "private clinics". If I wanted to see frauds and charlatans, I'd go to a carnival.

Do MRIs count? You could drop a few grand and book yourself one in Alberta for Monday. It's no private operating room, and that province is a bit like a carnival, but they'd certainly approve of your kind of hyperbolic rhetoric there.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29701951)

Not just MRIs. Plastic surgeons as well ...

Re:Perfect Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702079)

Not just MRIs. Plastic surgeons as well ...

We have a private clinic in Vancouver that does just about anything but major surgery - MRI's, Check ups, minor surgery (hip replacements, knee replacements) - The government doesn't seem to really care about it (well at least they do nothing about it), but a lot of the left of centre groups in the city really get a bug up their ass about it.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

TihSon (1065170) | about 5 years ago | (#29702089)

Ten bucks says josh82 is from Toronto ...

Re:Perfect Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702097)

"Not in Canada you don't. The only way for me to have a choice is to go to another country."

That is not true. You can opt out of Canada's social medicine today if you wanted too. You've been watching too much CNN.

http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/infoben/eligible.html#cancel [gov.bc.ca]

Re:Perfect Example (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | about 5 years ago | (#29701603)


. but you don't have bureaucrats wasting billions in order to keep themselves and their buddies rolling in the dough, and billions more being wasted through sheer indifference.

Righto.. in private industry it's CEOs doing all that.

Are you really that naive to think that private business doesn't do the exact same thing all the time?

If you actually look at the output of U.S. healthcare, you might notice we spend the most, and don't get the best care.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29701725)

Are you really that naive to think that private business doesn't do the exact same thing all the time?

I'm sure some do. Then they get bailed out by your government, instead of failing and being replaced by corporations which don't have their heads up their asses. You let the government encourage stagnation in the private sector, and then blame the resultant inefficiency on capitalism. That's like stuffing your face full of McDonalds for every meal, and then blaming the agricultural industry for making you fat.

If you actually look at the output of U.S. healthcare, you might notice we spend the most, and don't get the best care.

The US has the best medical care in the world - it's only on average that you receive lower quality care. You want to improve things, fix your tort laws. Then eliminate medicare, and stop giving away services to the rest of the world. I guarantee the figures will look much more balanced.

Re:Perfect Example (4, Insightful)

AxeTheMax (1163705) | about 5 years ago | (#29702265)

The US has the best medical care in the world - it's only on average that you receive lower quality care.

Oh yes, of course. Impeccable logic, I like the way your mind works. Don't forget also that for Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe is the most peaceful, well run country on earth - it's only on average that the place is a bit of a disaster. And India has some of the richest people in the world; it's only on average that it is a poor country.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | about 5 years ago | (#29702311)

can you specify a financial bailout delivered to an inefficient American health care provider? I can't think of one, although I could conceivably have missed it.

Re:Perfect Example (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#29701619)

Actually, you do have exactly that in a capitalist system. Most large corporations are run this badly, or worse. There's a reason there's an incestuous web of shared directors across Fortune 500 companies, many of whom hire out jobs to each other or to consulting firms connected with those directors or other senior management.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

rhizome (115711) | about 5 years ago | (#29701625)

This is why I find it amusing when people say that a socialized medical system is inherently more efficient than a US-style system.

Tell us, who are these "people" who say that socialized medicine is inherently more efficient than a privatized one? Most of what I've read illustrates the difference in patient satisfaction or in terms of patient costs. Unless you've completely made up this "efficient" assertion, I really would like to see how that is quantified.

Re:Perfect Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701687)

This isn't a story about health care, but how bad IT departments in big organizations are run.

It's amazing how much money is spent on sh*t and how little knowledge is used to make good decisions. This happens in every poorly run organization and it is great that someone is blowing the whistle on this crap.

The best tool is not used here. Not even an adequate tool.

Sad, but true. Idiots run for government usually... and often they get in. Then we all pay.

BTW, Socialized health care works... In a private insurance company, you wouldn't hear about this, and you wouldn't have a system built to share information like this either.

Re:Perfect Example (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 years ago | (#29701689)

This is why I find it amusing when people say that a socialized medical system is inherently more efficient than a US-style system

The bad news is just about anything is better than your horribly inflated insurance system that pretends to be a medical system. There are many problems in many other places generally where accountants are making the medical decisions - government run systems are not immune from such idiocy.
Imagine you have no insurance. Now look at your medical system from that perspective. It's really only a side effect that people get healed in such a mess.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29701737)

If you'd bothered to read my sig, you wouldn't have had to waste your breath on that diatribe. As a matter of fact, I live in the above mentioned Socialist Paradise of Canuckistan, not the Eeeeevil United States of Capitalist Pigdogs.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29701967)

It's Kanuckistan, you ignorant clod!

With a "K", Tabernac! :-)

Of course, now that the US has gone about and socialized/intervened in so much of their economy (auto makers, banks, insurance companies, real estate) they make us look like wild crazy capitalist swine. United Statist Amerika.

I just hope that things don't go completely to hell in a hand-basket down there - Celine Dion might decide to move back!

Re:Perfect Example (0, Troll)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 years ago | (#29702119)

I didn't bother to read your sig, I was replying to your ignorant "private enterprise does everything better" comment using the expensive disaster that is US health care as an example. Maybe private enterprise can but it would have to do it a different way. All US health care is good for is making lawyers and insurance execs rich - it doesn't even do much for the doctors and far less for the patients. Find a US doctor and you'll find someone that makes several times the yearly average wage, blows that much on insurance, and then had to find an income after that.

Re:Perfect Example (3, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 5 years ago | (#29701739)

The inherent problem with healthcare (or especially, health insurance) as a purely capitalist system is that its goals are at odds with what the goals of healthcare should be. A health insurance corporation is driven to achieve the best result and largest profits for its shareholders, rather than the best health for its customers. One that can take your money in premiums for your entire lifetime and then manage to deny you coverage when it comes time to pay out has essentially won and is performing well from a capitalist perspective, but it isn't providing good healthcare.

Healthcare is also a curiously localized/monopolized industry in that people typically have a very limited ability to shop around, in part because in any emergency or for most non-elective procedures or conditions you most likely will end up going to the closest hospital rather than the best or cheapest hospital.

That's not to say that putting everything in the hands of government is the ideal solution, either. Government can be its own kind of clusterfuck, and government agencies by their very nature have a tendency to reward mediocrity more than they reward excellence or punish failure.

Mostly, it means that anyone who tells you there's an easy solution, no matter what it is, to making healthcare work great is missing something.

Re:Perfect Example (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29701797)

A health insurance corporation is driven to achieve the best result and largest profits for its shareholders, rather than the best health for its customers. One that can take your money in premiums for your entire lifetime and then manage to deny you coverage when it comes time to pay out has essentially won and is performing well from a capitalist perspective, but it isn't providing good healthcare.

That's never been a convincing argument. Does your car-insurance company try to screw you the same way? Mine certainly never has.

I've never been in accident myself, but my sister is with the same company. She's been involved in 3 accidents - none her fault - and each time the company had a rental car for her in less than an hour, and cut her a cheque within a month. Oh, and all 3 times, she got more money from them than what she originally paid for the car! So, tell me again - how is it that insurance companies are only looking to screw her out of her premiums without ever paying anything back?

If your insurance company sucks, the solution isn't a government takeover - it's making a smart decision about where you get your insurance. That's why it's such a horrible idea to have medical insurance tied to your employer, by the way. I'm sure that if you employer had to pick and pay for your car insurance, you'd end up with a rental bicycle and a cheque for fifty bucks.

Re:Perfect Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702211)

Meh. If it wasn't her fault, then the insurance company can turn around and recover the costs from the insurer of the party at fault (as long as there is one) or the person at fault if s/he have assets they can sue for. Since they can actually charge a premium for their own costs in the operation, it's in their interest to run up the bill (especially if they get an additional % above what they paid on her behalf via interest charges) because their competition is paying to keep the customer happy. Now if it had been "her fault" in all three of those accidents where the costs couldn't be passed on, (even if it was just natural causes such as a fallen tree around a blind curve), odds are she would have been a lot more hard pressed to get the same level of service.

That said there certainly can be good insurers, even among for-profit corporations. My opinion is clouded by ICBC, which has been known to find both parties in a car accident partially at fault, even when the police identified one party to be 100% at fault according to the rules of the road, so that they could raise rates on both parties to help defray the costs of the accident.

Re:Perfect Example (4, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 years ago | (#29702287)

Does your car-insurance company try to screw you the same way?

Insurance companies (car insurance included) are renound for trying to screw over their customers and weasel out of paying out. As an example, if I crashed and wrote off my car tomorrow, the money I get from my insurance company will in no way buy me a car of the same age and condition - they will pay me the amount it'd cost me to get a rust-bucket of the same age at auction. Sure, it's better than nothing, but it still sucks. Luckily, so far all my insurance claims have been for stuff that was very clearly another driver's fault (there wasn't any weaselling-out-room) and didn't result in my car being written of, so the damage got fixed at no cost to myself.

Every year my car insurance company puts up my premium by about 50%, and so I cancel the policy and apply for a new one as a "new customer" - this isn't just one insurance company, *every* car insurance company I've used does this, on the assumption that the customer is too lazy to shop around. IMHO this sort of "disloyalty bonus" constitutes "screwing over the customer".

As another example, in the news today - the regulator has just slapped down a lot of mortgage payment protection insurance companies (i.e. those that pay your mortgage when you get made redundant) for doing too much weaselling out of payouts after the recession hit.

Re:Perfect Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702379)

The inherent problem with healthcare (or especially, health insurance) as a purely capitalist system is that its goals are at odds with what the goals of healthcare should be. A health insurance corporation is driven to achieve the best result and largest profits for its shareholders, rather than the best health for its customers. One that can take your money in premiums for your entire lifetime and then manage to deny you coverage when it comes time to pay out has essentially won and is performing well from a capitalist perspective, but it isn't providing good healthcare.

Generally insurance companies want to charge you a rate based on the current odds of something bad happening to you in the future. Then they want to get you to reduce those odds . Extra profit!

Different topics (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#29701613)

Consultants that say what must be done is not open source. They could suggest open source products that fits in some or even all of the requirements of the system, but they still have to get paid, that would not be saved (of course, that for every penny won by a consultant some share goes to the one that hired or recommended him is another topic).

But the system could have ended in open source. If they had to develop a new solutions or integrate existing ones, that was done with the money of the taxpayers and could have been done open source.

IM SO PISSED OFF (0, Offtopic)

masmullin (1479239) | about 5 years ago | (#29701635)

That I might collapse of a heart attack.

This article oversimplifies a complex problem (1, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 5 years ago | (#29701669)

Is there an open source software that does something pretty close to what they spent a pile of money building a custom solution for? Apparently there is.

Is the open source solution close enough to the needs of the Ontario government that, as the article alleges, all you need to do is buy some servers and set it up and there are negligible other costs? I seriously doubt it. I would be willing to bet heavily against it. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably hasn't spent much time developing software for government.

Probably they could have saved money by using the open source software as a starting point for customizations -- but they're going to have to do some, because the business model or set of civic statutes the software is built for aren't the same as what that particular government requires. Who does those customizations? Why, there you're probably back to hiring software consultants again.

I'm currently working on a government project (as a developer consultant) that's very similar to the idealized case laid out in the article, and it's not my first such project; in my estimation, in most cases, if you can repurpose something open source that's very similar to what the government agency in question is asking for, you can save maybe half the money of building a complete solution from scratch. At first you may estimate that you're going to be able to do a lot better than that, but as you get further into the project you find that there's just too many odd requirements unique to any given government entity or municipality that don't exist anywhere else and are completely inflexible because they're a matter of law.

So, yeah. You can save money, and that's a good thing, but you can't save what the dude in the article thinks you can save.

Re:This article oversimplifies a complex problem (2, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 years ago | (#29701867)

No, it doesn't oversimplify. It says that the open source solution would have been cheaper, not free. You are making up things that aren't true, then proving them false. And if you've ever done anything like this before, you know that the closed versions take tons of customization, otherwise how would they have already spent so much?

I misinterpreted the title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701675)

I read the title and got extremely curious. When did closed source kill hundreds of millions of people and why didn't I hear about it?

My advice (0, Troll)

JimboFBX (1097277) | about 5 years ago | (#29701715)

My advice after interning for a consultant is to not hire consultants. Its no coincidence that Dilbert makes fun of them. Imagine someone who sits on their ass and schemes up things to specialize in, and takes projects they have no experience in (at least not enough that any employer would count as "experienced" when looking for people to hire). Imagine an individual whom picks high priced products just because they get more when they resell it with a 25 - 75% mark-up. Now imagine someone who is honest, and imagine how you could possibly tell the difference.

Oh yeah, and most of their business? From the government.

The issues are not simple (4, Informative)

XB-70 (812342) | about 5 years ago | (#29701735)

I have had meetings with senior bureaucrats and politicians in Ontario about FOSS. Moving free software into the government sphere is really difficult. Firstly, the biggest fear is change. If you implement a change which impacts 60,000 employees, if there is a problem, the person who made the decision to change software will be 'implicated' and blamed etc. etc. No one wants to stick their necks out.

The only way to counteract the problem is if you get backing at a very high level (from the Premier and his Cabinet). During the late '90s all the ministries had to convert and conform to one accounting standard. The push-back from all levels was incredible. It was only because people were threatened with being fired that the project got enough traction to be implemented.

This is what Open Source software is up against. It's truly brutal. That said, never give up fighting, but it has to be done at the highest levels.

I used to work for Hamilton Health Sciences... (2, Interesting)

etherlad (410990) | about 5 years ago | (#29701743)

... so I'm getting a real kick out of these replies.

Seriously, back in 2002 I was working at HHS, of which McMaster is a part. The pilot project I was on was looking for a solution to push out to relevant departments all over southern Ontario. It was a mess of completely unrelated databases and paper files. I remember looking at Oscar as a possible solution, and I was ooing and aaahing over it. Don't remember the details now, but it was really elegant and did everything it was supposed to be doing. I can only imagine what it looks like now, eight years later. I recommended it heartily to my superiors. Don't know what they did with it, if anything, once my contract ran out.

Good on ya, Mac!

easy. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29701889)

Open Source Could Have Saved Ontario Hundreds of Millions

it's so easy a caveman could do it.

And here's why (4, Insightful)

Jeian (409916) | about 5 years ago | (#29701979)

Stolen from the comments section of the article:

---
Can CBC please do some research on eHealth? This article clearly misleads by confusing an EMR (Electronic Medical Record) with an integrated EHR (Electronic Health Record). OSCAR is an EMR, not an EHR. Apples and oranges as they say.

eHealth Ontario is primarily concerned with developing an iEHR. An EHR is a whole 'nother thing and is a much bigger and way more challenging part of the overall eHealth problem. There are plenty of EMRs around of which OSCAR is only one option.

To put things in perspective, it would be very useful for CBC and others to read this overview from Canada Health Infoway...

http://www2.infoway-inforoute.ca/Documents/Vision_2015_Advancing_Canadas_next_generation_of_healthcare%5B1%5D.pdf [infoway-inforoute.ca]

This document will clarify that an integrated EHR infostructure is the problem that eHealth Ontario has been struggling to provide. While EMR is a part of the solution, it really is a much smaller element and a non-issue for Ontario.

Dr Chan should know this but I suppose he is enamoured with his 'baby' and assumes that EMR solves all eHealth problems. Perhaps he disagrees with the Registry-centric iEHR model that Canada Health Infoway has selected over the alternative of an Information Sharing architecture (that favours EMRs). That train, however, has left the station and all provinces are already deeply committed to the CHI approach.

CBC seems more interested in digging up dirt than providing clarity. I suggest a little more integrity and accuracy and a little less innuendo and inflamatory reportng is in order.
--

This is how your hard-earned tax dollars are spent (2, Interesting)

cfriedt (1189527) | about 5 years ago | (#29702011)

I've observed first-hand how ridiculous (publicly funded institution) spending is, in Ontario, and this does not surprise me in the least.

I used to work at a certain university in downtown Toronto. Rather than giving this task to their already 100+ employees (who usually had very little to do anyway) with CS or related degrees, they opted to hire 20+ external consultants at a rate of ~ $100,000 CAD / year (for a couple of years at least) to 'integrate' some proprietary 3rd-party product (ahem ... PeopleSoft!).

The alternative was to build a fully-customizable, easily-maintainable, more efficient, user-friendlier product themselves for essentially $0, as all of the employees who would build said project were already on salary.

Why? Liability. Rather than ensuring a product is up-to-snuff by their internal standards, by professionals who are more qualified to set those standards, and quickly writing fixes internally, the management preferred to have someone external to blame in case things went wrong. That way they could spend another $1M on consultants to fix the problem later on ;-)

It really makes you question how your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent.

Re:This is how your hard-earned tax dollars are sp (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | about 5 years ago | (#29702049)

Also, there are annual licenses that have to be renewed on a per-workstation basis for this software, and it is not cheap.

mod6 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702113)

FreeBSD at about 80 has brought upon you got there. Or

Good work Mac! (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | about 5 years ago | (#29702183)

My last comment was rather negative towards consultants. I do feel that this article is very positive in general - excellent work Mac!

Biggest part of the problem of Cdn govt hiring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29702385)

Bilingualism.
That takes a higher priority over technical knowledge. The government has to hire so many consultants to cut costs but also to get around the stupidity of the bilingualism mandate. Anyone who has done the test will tell you that the exam that tests your French understanding is much, much more difficult than the English one. Even for jobs where you are not talking to the public it is required. The best part is outside of Ottawa there is no issue. If you are in Quebec, the language used is French, everywhere else it is English. It is only in Ottawa that they do somersaults to make sure all correspondence, emails, voice mailes, etc is in both languages. Well this is from my experience.

The states found Affirmative Action as being unconsitutional. Problem is up here, it's part of our Constitution.

This is mostly geared at the Federal government, I am not sure about the Provincial side but it wouldn't surprise me there as well.

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