Support IT growth in New Brunswick, not the US.

Below is an op-ed written for the Telegraph Journal.


I am writing in response to Mr Linfield's editorial "Maximizing government productivity with technology." I am concerned about how some of his information was presented.

The report referred to by Mr Linfield was taken out of context. The motivation for this report is obvious: to drum up business for the companies which make up the Technology CEO Council. In their report, there is a strong argument for governments to consolidate IT services, but its main purpose is to promote out-sourcing. This would be a bad move for New Brunswick.

The Council's argument for job creation does not apply to New Brunswick. Rather, it simply transfers labour and investment from the public sector to the private sector. I am not against investing in the private sector, however, the savings mentioned in this report are based on utilizing cloud computing services from large companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and EMC Corporation. All of these companies are based in the US, creating no local jobs and sending NB government dollars outside the province and the country. I should also point out that the CEO of EMC Corp, Joseph Tucci, is a member of the Council. All remaining members represent some of the top computer hardware manufacturers in the world. Their biggest customers are cloud computing firms and data centres, such as EMC. It's no coincidence that a previous report released by the Council in 2009 was entitled "The Economic Benefits of Provisions Allowing U.S. Multinational Companies to Defer U.S. Corporate Tax on their Foreign Earnings."

Also, projected savings in the report ignore all kinds of costs. The cost of migration, training, and more importantly, a decrease in productivity because IT services are no longer focused on government's needs, but the needs of hundreds or even thousands of clients. This is a major concern in, what should be, innovative sectors such as healthcare and post-secondary education where IT infrastructure needs to be nimble, reliable and mission focused.

There are current initiatives for IT departments across various public institutions in NB to collaborate more, but there isn't much support. Through government ears, "support" sounds like "expense” and the these initiative come to a halt. Meanwhile, the Technology CEO Council interprets this as public employees being unproductive and inefficient.

I would like to emphasize the word collaborate in the paragraph above rather than consolidate, although consolidating resources is inherent with many collaborative projects.

"[The Carlisle Institute's] hope is to bring to New Brunswickers a real sense of the scope and scale of the changes that are going to affect the province - most particularly, the challenges of globalization, which will have ever greater effects on the economy, on politics and on society itself."

This is a quote from Mr Linfield in an article published in the Telegraph when the Carlisle Institute was launched in April. If Mr Linfield is really concerned about the prosperity of this province, I ask that he look further into his sources and what the information really means for this province.

Support collaboration between New Brunswick government departments and public institutions. Invest in New Brunswick, not American IT companies.