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MIS Systems Thread, Should our government be doing this? in Technical; ...
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    scholarpack's Avatar
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    Should our government be doing this?

    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.
    Government of Malta publishes their Open Source Vision.

    via: https://www.mita.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=191

    As I recall, the Maltese education system is based heavy on the English one.

  2. #2
    danbuntu's Avatar
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    Hell yes.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    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.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    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.

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    danbuntu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    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.
    The linux action show had a good take on this which is that opinion is beginning to change as the second and third generation of geeks are beginning to work their way up the corporate ladder - the kind of geeks that don't default to we have paid for it therefore it's better.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danbuntu View Post
    The linux action show had a good take on this which is that opinion is beginning to change as the second and third generation of geeks are beginning to work their way up the corporate ladder - the kind of geeks that don't default to we have paid for it therefore it's better.
    Completly agree dan, although my experience might say this is down very simply in most (but not all) cases to the fact that people at that stage now learnt from messing around at home with no money to spend on software, so open source was the only way... I know because I was one of them!

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    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.
    I agree, and OSS is not always the cheap option. Lots of paied for software it half a dozen clicks and your done as the implementation is handled nicely in software. This can be a very far cry from sifting through pages of config files.

    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.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    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.

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    danbuntu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    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..
    Valid points. However what if government takes my taxes and spends them working with and developing open source software. Then when I, as part of a smaller organisation, come to use that software it would have had the benefit of all that extra development and hopefully as a result be more stable and easier to set up.

    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.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danbuntu View Post
    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.
    I wouldn't say this is true in most cases except for a quickly identifiable few, picking up on my earlier reply, who do you go to when, relying on a heavily used and important system (MIS is a good example) whe something breaks, doesn't work right, needs upgrading, incompatible with another system? The bonus of Microsoft (sometimes) is that they do spend millions on development and interoperability, and love it or hate it, generally it works right.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danbuntu View Post
    Valid points. However what if government takes my taxes and spends them working with and developing open source software. Then when I, as part of a smaller organisation, come to use that software it would have had the benefit of all that extra development and hopefully as a result be more stable and easier to set up.
    Both good and bad points there, if the governtment did contribute to OSS and make those changes/configurations avalible freely to its citizens then it could benifit people. On the flip side is it really the governments role to be a software development house, for certain things maybe but not all and what about the local companies that it is effectivly competeing against. Should the goventment really be spending taxes (paid by the citizens and companies in question) on competing with its own citizens and trying to put them out of business?

    Quote Originally Posted by danbuntu View Post
    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.
    You are right that there is nothing wrong with hireing in extra consultants to help set up a system and maybe maintain it but this again adds to the cost removing one of the much loarded benifits of the solutions being cheaper. You are also perfectly able to run proprietary software yourself you just can't alter the core code. Depending on the supplier of the software you may however be able to request that they make required changes for you if there are any.

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Should the goventment really be spending taxes (paid by the citizens and companies in question) on competing with its own citizens and trying to put them out of business?


    You are right that there is nothing wrong with hireing in extra consultants to help set up a system and maybe maintain it but this again adds to the cost removing one of the much loarded benifits of the solutions being cheaper. You are also perfectly able to run proprietary software yourself you just can't alter the core code. Depending on the supplier of the software you may however be able to request that they make required changes for you if there are any.
    government wouldn't be purposely trying to 'crowd out' it's citizens, it would simply be procuring/commissioning work that could be open source and reusable across other parts of the government. it's still buying in services.

    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 ?

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    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.

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    danbuntu's Avatar
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    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.

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    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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