Portland’s Multnomah County takes a page from the startup playbook, opting for Google Apps over Microsoft Office

You just have to think like a startup. And that’s just what Multnomah County, Oregon, is doing by switching from Microsoft Office to Google Apps.

When you’re trying to build a startup—or run a fledgling project—every little bit helps. And lately, one of the most popular startup cost cutting maneuvers has been eschewing expensive office software suites in favor of free online versions—like Google Docs or Google Apps—of course.

But see, you don’t have to be a startup to take advantage of this little cost saving procedure. You just have to think like a startup. And that’s just what Multnomah County, Oregon, is doing by switching from Microsoft Office to Google Apps.

That’s right. Portland’s Multnomah County has opted to take the startup route. Getting rid of Microsoft Office in favor of the free Google alternative for government. To the tune of nearly three quarter of a million dollars.

Switching to Google Apps plays an important role in achieving these goals. This new environment increases government transparency by allowing employees complete access to email and information on demand, vastly improving employee efficiency and collaboration while saving taxpayers approximately $100,000 each year in licensing and related costs and up to $500,000 in staff time and staff costs.

Why would this save so much money? Well, just because folks are licensed doesn’t mean they use the technology. And that results in a lot of lost cash. With free apps, that loss doesn’t tax the county—or its citizens.

Currently, every county employee is licensed to use the complete suite of Microsoft Office applications, but many staff members only use a small portion of those features. Google Apps provides Multnomah County with equivalent capabilities for no additional cost. Many employees will be able able to do their jobs without those costly software packages in the future.

Good ol’ Portland. And Multnomah County. They’re really just startups at heart.

For more information, see Multnomah County goes Google.

(Hat tip Aaron Hockley, Jake Kuramoto)

  1. I am suspicious too, mainly because in these tough times, a lot of government agencies are desperately trying to make themselves look like modern, dynamic visionaries (which they aren’t). Yet, bureaucracies are inert by design and nearly impossible to change. I think this will not amount to anything more than a mere ‘face-lift’, all the while hiding the rigid, inefficient County bureaucracy from the public’s view.

  2. This trends to draw my suspicion. Google chrome and Google docs seem to draw a lot of files and data into the realm of one monstrously huge company. Seems benign now but one slight push in the near future could be devastating.

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