Government of Malta publishes their Open Source Vision.Malta has announced its position with respect to Open Standards and Open Source Software (OSS) and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) also presented an Open Source Vision white paper which has the aim of nurturing the proliferation of open source software.
MITA chairman Claudio Grech spoke about the reasons why the government complies with Open Standards and, if it’s the best solution, procure OSS.
“When we procure ICT solutions for the government, we do so with a strategic vision and with long-term planning so we go for the best value for money. It is crucial that where possible and where the business needs are similar, we are able to share and re-use these ICT solutions across the public sector,” said Mr Grech. As a major ICT buyer in the local market, the government cannot afford to have disjointed solutions which require major investment to ensure interoperability later on. “It is essential to reduce costs and risks, avoid paying twice and secure the highest returns on investment,” said Mr Grech.
As I recall, the Maltese education system is based heavy on the English one.
OSS is a key part of any future procurement policy, however it shouldn't be seen as 'cheap' just because it can be free.
As with any policy, the goals should be the starting point and then things should be looked at which fulfil those goals.
I do think our government should be involving OSS in their decisions more but it shouldn't be the only thing they look at. There are many things which should be involved in those processes.
It's funny but Open Source still have a bit of stigma attached to it, regardless of the company or software, is still seen by many as 'cheap freebie version'. Which is totally not the case.
Look at DansGuardian vs Smoothwall, both based on OOS but one you pay for. You pay for someone else to deal with the fiddly bits so you don't have to personally implement the entire solution yourself.
On the scale of a government it is totally feasible to employ the people to spend the time to implement it propperly and deploy it over hundreds of sites. In smaller implementations like businesses where they actually pay their technical support market value it is not economical to spend the time to implement a solution up to the same level as something like Smoothwall. It becomes much cheaper, safer and more sane to pay someone else to do that bit and just configure the site specific stuff rather than the whole deal.
Before anyone jumps up I'm not saying that all OSS software is like this but almost every time I have to install some server side OOS software I end up neck deep in a text file the length of the Art of War.
I think that is a good point, at what point to you want to pay to hand off the responsibility and technical skill to a company... this is where OSS often ends and corporate type software begins.
Also there is nothing to stop you paying for someone to help setup open source software for you and nothing wrong with it either. The advantage of course is that when you have had time to use it and play with it you can go solo and run it by yourself - something you can't do with proprietary software.
now, you could argue that government could and should be using it's buying power to make best use of proprietary software it purchases, but then presumably such usage across govt. departments sees licensing costs and customization costs rise, with government being 'locked in' in continuing to pay annual support and endless customization ontop of initial licensing costs ?
One of the other problems is that should the UK Govt decide to work on open resources or OSS applications and then release them to be used elsewhere ... and that it is paid for by the tax payer ... surely certain companies might take the view that the Govt is trying to force them out of business?
Anyone remember Curriculum Online and BBC Jam?
There is also the stigma of it being a Govt project which turns people away from it. For some strange reason, there are chunks of the public that don't like the idea of the Govt choosing something (or developing it) as they want the freedom to choose ... even if it costs more or involves more work for them.
It's worth noting that as well as Malta at the top of this post the governments of Brazil, India and China and Korea plus regional governments in Spain, Portugal and probably some other are increasingly using OSS. Also the White House runs it's main website on OSS. So at the very least our government needs to look at this stuff.
I think I'm more concerned over 'open data' or the sharing of data between goverment orgnisations than I am the software that the goverment uses for these purporses.
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