Switch to Open Office or Google Documents from Microsoft Office

Savings: $175,000

Many City offices currently use the Microsoft Office suite of applications for their business processes.  In order to use these software applications, the City pays a licensing fee to Microsoft.

Under this option the City would discontinue the purchase of Microsoft Office licenses and use free alternative software such as Open Office or Google Documents.  Over the last four and a half years, the City paid an average $350,000 per year for Microsoft product licensing.[1]  Assuming half of this spending was related to Microsoft Office products, the City could save $175,000 annually by switching to no-fee software.

Proponents might argue that some large corporations, including Sun Microsystems and Novell, already use alternative office productivity applications such as Open Office.[2]  In addition, Open Office has been downloaded over 135 million times.



Opponents might argue that most City employees who rely on office productivity software are familiar with the MS Office Suite of programs and the productivity loss from learning a new suite of software would far outweigh any savings from reduced licensing fees.

Discussion and Additional Questions

Some questions to consider when deciding whether or not to implement this option:

  • How valuable is the tech support that comes with Microsoft licenses?
  • What is the track record for the use of open source applications?
  • What security concerns accompany the use of open source software?

For a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of this option go to:


Budget Details

Dept: Various Bureau: NA
Fund: Various Approp Code: For Professional and Technical Services and Other Third Party Benefit Agreements, 0140
The appropriations are located throughout the 2011 Annual Appropriation Ordinance.



[1] Financial Management and Purchasing System. Contract #13783.

This does not include spending on Microsoft Office products that come installed on new computers the City purchases, so the actual spending is likely much greater.

[2] OpenOffice.Org wiki. “Market Share Analysis”