Justice extends WordPerfect

When the Interior Department's Technology Information Center first began offering courses in 1985, the most popular ones were for the WordPerfect word processing and the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet applications. Now, the most popular courses are for Microsoft's Word and Excel, which during the past decade, have become the world's dominant desktop computer productivity applications.

But some Justice Department users still use the competition.

Corel officials announced today that Justice officials will extend an existing contract for WordPerfect Office and license more than 50,000 seats, one of the biggest deployments of the No. 2 word processor. Since DOJ bought 35,000 WordPerfect seats in 1999, the department's Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Attorneys hired more employees, requiring the contract's expansion.

Although much of DOJ uses Word, officials say that many members of the legal community still use WordPerfect for the reveal codes function and its ability to display a variety of legal tools and footnotes at the bottom of a page rather than at the end of a long document.

"We have a lot of expertise in WordPerfect," said Mary Aileen O'Donovan, a program manager in DOJ's enterprise solutions staff. "Kids come out of [law] school pretty good users,…and they don't want to switch."

U.S. courts also require all case filings to be in WordPerfect.

All DOJ agencies outside of the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration will use the new WordPerfect. The FBI still works with an older version, WordPerfect 8, although the bureau's legal employees bought several new suites. DEA and the Marshals do not use WordPerfect.

DOJ officials signed a two-year contract with Corel, with three option years. Although DOJ will continue with WordPerfect for now, the whole department will eventually shift to Word, O'Donovan said.

"As far as correspondence to the outside world, everybody uses Word," she said. "After two years, we could presumably go out of it."

Already, the department depends on Microsoft's PowerPoint and Excel.

Corel officials tout their product as a necessity for the legal and government worlds. Officials at the U.S. courts, Library of Congress and White House use WordPerfect at some level, said Richard Carriere, Corel's general manager for office productivity. And Corel is cheaper, he said.

"We are not giving our product away, don't get me wrong," Carriere said. "It remains a standard in the industry."

General Services Administration license pricing for Corel's product starts at $106. Although that's 73 percent less than the suggested retail price of Microsoft Office 2003, government agencies typically pay less than retail for Microsoft applications.

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