Senate Office (Sergeant At Arms) Works To Keep Macs Out Of Senate

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Wired.com reports that the Senate Office of the Sergeant at Arms (SAA), the office responsible for the IT infrastructure in Capitol Hill among other things, is strongly anti-Mac. The SAA, an office supported by your tax dollars, goes so far as to refuse requests for Macs and deny service for those few offices who still have them. From the Wired.com article titled “Macs’ Last Stand on Capitol Hill:”

Mac lovers like [Amelia Dungan, assistant to the director of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Health Committee] have few champions on the Hill these days. The Senate Office of the Sergeant at Arms (SAA), which makes technology recommendations to senators, has eliminated almost all Macs on Capitol Hill with the exception of three offices: Kennedy’s, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), and the office of the Democratic Policy Committee.

The SAA’s recommendations aren’t mandatory, but those that follow them are provided with follow-up hardware and software, and technical support.

According to critics, those who decline the SAA’s advice are ostracized: Requests for support go unanswered, and suggestions for new technologies are ridiculed.

“There aren’t many Mac users left,” says Jeff Hecker, a systems administrator at the Democratic Policy Committee, which uses Macs to analyze data and create visual displays for Senate debates. “The PC bigots (at the SAA) have, for the most part, driven them out of the Senate.”

Hecker said he has given up fighting for the Mac cause, but there is one Mac proponent who is digging in his heels and taking a last stand for Macs on Capitol Hill.

The rebel’s name is Ngozi Pole. He is the office and systems administer at Kennedy’s Boston and Washington offices. He got Dungan and the other staffers their iBooks during the anthrax scare. And for years, Pole has been locking horns with anti-Mac administrators at the Senate Office of the Sergeant at Arms.

Mr. Pole tells Wired.com that the people in Senator Kennedy’s office only need “e-mail, the Internet, a word processor and the ability to create output. Why shouldn’t we be able to use Macs if we want to?” The SAA’s Mac bigots aren’t interested in such niceties. From the article:

Instead, the SAA is pushing toward an easy-to-maintain, Microsoft-only upper branch.

The SAA has few Mac support staff, and crushes the hopes of Mac proponents each time it recommends technologies that are not cross-platform compatible in its requests for information and proposals (RFIs and RFPs).

“The SAA writes crappy RFIs and RFPs,” Pole said. “They have never written one that talks about cross-platform solutions.”

That approach is costing the Senate money, according to Pole. By seeking a Windows-only workplace, the SAA is locking the Senate into expensive product development cycles precipitated by each new release of Microsoft’s Windows.

Read through the rest of the article, then stop back and let us know what you think.

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