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State Department: FireFox Costs Too Much

Tweaktown is poking fun at a recent town hall meeting involving Hillary Clinton, Pat Kennedy, and the free alternate browser to Internet Explorer, Mozilla's FireFox. According to the transcript, a staffer asked Clinton if the State Department could use FireFox. The staffer said that the alternate web browser was approved for the entire intelligence community, and was surprised that FireFox wasn't in use by the State. Clinton, unable to answer the question, diverted the query to Pat Kennedy.

"The answer is at the moment, it’s an expense question," he answered.

There was a burst of laughter. "It's free," the staffer corrected.

Kennedy acknowledged the rebuttal by saying that "nothing is free." However, he also added that it's an expense to administer and maintain, especially on multiple systems; the "expense question" had nothing to do with using taxpayer money to purchase free software. He did say that they originally looked into installing the browser, but the thought of administration and loading patches seemed out of the question. Although FireFox basically patches itself, browser installation and maintenance would indeed eat government funds--any network administrator of a large corporation would agree--so his answer does makes sense.

"It may seem small, but when you’re running a worldwide operation and trying to push, as the Secretary rightly said, out FOBs and other devices, you’re caught in the terrible bind of triage of trying to get the most out that you can, but knowing you can’t do everything at once," he said.