Friday, March 07, 2008

Are we wasting the taxpayers money on E-mail?

Is this waste?
What does the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, the College of Business, College of Science, Computer Engineering and the School of Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State have in common? They are among a number of colleges, departments and other organizational units at San Jose State University that equip, buy software for, staff and maintain their own separate E-mail systems. Despite the fact the university provides E-mail accounts, has staff and E-mail servers and pays software license fees for a campus-wide E-mail and calendaring system that serves each and every campus employee, these units have separate E-mail systems.

Remember, San Jose State is one of 23 campuses in the California State University System.

Why do we need so many E-mail systems?
To put this into perspective, imagine that San Jose State University was one department store in a chain of 23 department stores. Imagine each of the 23 stores in the chain having their own E-mail systems with their individual domain names and having their own staffs having jobs maintaining those E-mail servers providing E-mail service for each individual store. Now imagine that within a single store the lawn and garden department had its own E-mail system with its own E-mail server(s) and E-mail domain name and staff having jobs maintaining their E-mail server(s) and the lingerie department having its own servers, system and staff, and the cosmetic department having its own servers, system and staff, and so on and so on. Imagine a reality where separate departments in every store had servers, staffs, and teams providing redundant services for departments in individual stores. A college is an organizational unit in a university that is much bigger than a department of a department store, but large corporations like IBM and Microsoft have multiple sites with large organizational units at these sites and they do not find it necessary to have redundant E-mail systems that are defined by organizational units. Imagine how wasteful that would be. They achieve economy of scale by having one E-mail system for the whole corporation that covers multiple sites and locations.

How can we ask for money while we waste it?
On Monday and Tuesday of this week I spent two days in Sacramento talking to state senators and state assembly members about the importance of preserving funding for CSU. Students at our university are faced with spiraling student fees and reduced services. In my opinion it is an insult to all of them for us to be wasting money on redundant systems and services. In my opinion our staff should be used meeting needs that are currently unmet rather than being assigned to providing redundant services.

Is this disloyalty or integrity?
Personal Statement - I have been an employee of San Jose State University for over 20 years. I currently work as an information technology consultant at the university help desk. I became a citizen of California long before I was hired by San Jose State University. I was born in California and I have lived here all of my life. I raised my family here. Every dollar I have earned has been subject to taxation by the State of California. I am proud of being a Californian.

My writing this may be seen as being disloyal as an employee to the university by some of my peers, but as a state employee, I believe our first loyalty is to the taxpayers of California. We need to spend their (and our) tax-dollars wisely. Before I was an employee of San Jose State University I was (and remain) a taxpayer of California. In this time of fiscal austerity, in this time when hard sacrifices are being asked of students and the citizens of this state, in my opinion at this time especially we do them a tremendous disservice when we waste precious tax money on unnecessary redundancy.

Isn't E-mail E-mail?
Some may say the university needs all this redundancy is because of our culture. Our culture, some say, makes our E-mail needs different. In my opinion that is bunk! We are talking about E-mail here, not culture. This is a service. E-mail is E-mail.

In my opinion, we are wasting the tax payer's money. As a taxpayer, that makes me mad!

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