Council Israeli boycott targets TRIM & HP

Sydney's Marrickville Council is considering a multimillion dollar proposal to dump its TRIM record-keeping platform, along with all HP hardware and software, in support of a boycott of companies that allegedly support Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

At a council meeting on April 19, the HP/TRIM boycott will be considered considered alongside usual council business, such as a plan for increased public car parking and a development application for more working rooms at a local brothel.

Developed in Australia, the TRIM EDRMS platfom has come under fire due to parent-company HPs inclusion on a list of companies that "support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine,” according to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

A subsidiary of HP, which acquired TRIM from Australia's Tower Software in 2008, supplies security software used at military checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza. HP also supplies PCs to the Israeli army.

At a council meeting in December 2010, Marrickville Council voted to support the principles of the BDS campaign.

The April 19 council meeting will be watched closely by the local government sector. At least half of Australia’s 560 local government organisations are also TRIM users.

According to the Local Government Association of Australia, local councils spend more than $A20 billion each year providing an increasingly broad range of infrastructure, economic and community services to residents. In total, councils employ around 178,000 people (almost 10% of the total public sector).

HP TRIM is dominant in the local government EDRMS market, where it leads competitors such as Objective, TechnologyOne and InfoExpert. Competition is emerging from platforms built on Microsoft SharePoint, such as RecordPoint and OBS i5 .

TRIM is also entrenched in federal and state government in Australia. Marrickville Council has written to the local Federal and State Labor members, husband and wife Anthony Albanese and Carmel Tebbutt, requesting support for extending the boycott to all levels of government in Australia.

Alongside HP, some of the companies that are identified by the BDS campaign include Ready mix (concrete), Chevrolet (vehicles), and Motorola (phones). Council estimates the cost of replacement of the Motorola phones and subsequent “retraining” is in the order of $150,000, while Bushells, Lipton and Lan Choo would be banished from the Marrickville Council tearoom, due to the naming of parent company Unilever.

According to a report prepared for Council, the costs of replacing HP computing and hardware would be in excess of $A3 million.

"However, it would still be likely that costs would be incurred with a major reinvestment in new computer hardware and some software platforms as upgrades of the existing equipment provided by Hewlett Packard could not occur and the purchase of equipment and systems from alternate suppliers would have to take place.

"An indication of this is as follows: The cost of replacing HP equipment could be around $3 million considering equipment replacement, existing leasing contracts penalties, staff retraining and consultancy to install new equipment; Operational costs could increase between 10 and 20% annually.

"In addition, Council would have to replace TRIM (Records Management System) at a cost of approximately $A200,000 plus. Impacts of this action would include the need to retrain all Council staff, removing the existing integration with other systems and consultancy for implementation. This would add a further $A100,000 to the cost of implementing a new records management system."

According to an industry expert experienced with the rollout of ECM platforms in Australia, the estimate of $A100,000 to replace TRIM and retrain the council's 600 staff is well short of the mark.

"They are missing a zero at least," he said.

"OK they might have the existing licences for SharePoint but that doesn't give them records compliance out of the box, so you would need to look at third party solutions for that as well as custom development to integrate with other enterprise applications.”

The web site lists companies and organisations that are described as profiting from or supporting the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.