Government Open Source Conference 2007

Some day I will join the ranks of diligent bloggers and post here with reasonable frequency. In the mean time, my writing efforts all flow to my favorite project, Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON). It’s coming up in just two weeks in Portland. The process of creating this hand-crafted event gives me plenty to share, but leaves little time to share it other than pushing session descriptions onto the conference web site. It puts me in touch with people all over the world that are doing interesting, compelling, innovative things that I think should hear about. Today, I’ll comment on the conference itself.

GOSCON remains a non-profit endeavor of Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab (OSL). Why do we do it?

Community Building. OSL was created to support the open source community, consistent with the university’s generalized mission to build community. I joined OSL to extend that mission into the public sector. I think the opportunity for state and local government is tremendous, and providing education at the management level key to reasonable and successful deployment of OSS.

Platform for Collaboration: State and local governments have a desire to collaborate. This is not an easy task in the government environment but there are plenty of agencies ready to take it on if made less painful. We’re a long way from government 2.0, but we need to learn from every successful AND unsuccessful project and GOSCON is a place for these connections to take place, at the podium and in the hallways.

Open IT EcoSystem Building aka Market Building: Government will never go it alone on software acquisition, deployment, training, maintenance and support. Vendors who are uncomfortable with the idea that they may loose market share in the government space and react by spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about OSS are worrying about the wrong problem. When we gathered to create the first GOSCON in 2005, one state agency CIO asked me “How will (insert large traditional national IT consulting firm here) support me if we move to Open Source development and applications?” In 2006, the large national traditional IT consulting firm sent two representatives to attend, listen and learn (and so did medium size firms, application providers, small consultants – the list goes on). This year the registration list expands to include silicon valley start-ups and others that want to be part of the conversation.

How do we do it? With a lot of help from my friends, and their friends too.  More on that tomorrow.

Australia’s Open Source Initative Matures

CIO Magazine has noted Australia’s maturity in the Open Source Software in government, interviewing Gartner Research’s leading OSS analyst for that sector – Andrea DiMaio – in an article entitled “Public Sector Warms to Open Source“. It’s been over two years since the country released its “Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies”.

Sidebar: DiMaio will keynote at GOSCON (small shameless plug for an outstanding event) on October 16, 2007 in Portland, Oregon. We can expect to hear more on Australia’s leading effort, as well as the general challenges agencies face in adoption OSS (on the later, read: update internal skill sets).  To his point, GOSCON will host a supplemental workshop on Open Source Policy Development.

From the CIO article:

“Public sector and government organizations around the world are adopting increasingly mature open-source products, with Australia at the front of the trend.

And while Gartner recently warned governments of all stripes about the need for a greater focus on establishing OSS policies, the Australian government is confident it has the matter well in hand.

A recent Gartner survey found what it called “a remarkable lack of maturity” in establishing OSS policies in public-sector organizations. It warned while most clients had significant deployments of open source, there was a dearth of formal and comprehensive policies covering aspects such as inventory, procurement, vendor assessment and selection, OSS license risk assessment and management, liability limitation, and participation in OSS communities.”Continue reading “Australia’s Open Source Initative Matures”

The City of Newport News, Virginia “Open eGov” project merged with PloneGov

Andy Stein, IT Director for the City of Newport News, Virgina, shared the news of NN’s recently released eGov platform which has now joined PloneGov.  In his email today to colleagues Andy related…

“Open eGov is our initiative to create a collaboration of multiple local governments that share in the cost of software enhancements and operations for eGovernment functionality. By joining PloneGov, we merge with an existing project which has a membership of about 55 government organizations from multiple countries, all using the same technology and interested in collaboration.

Many of you already converted to a Content Management System. If not, then PloneGov may be an excellent alternative for you.

You may know about smaller organizations in your region which may be interested in this approach. I would appreciate you forwarding this note to the peer groups in your region.

The technology we use is very scalable and there is a strong base of large organizations running it. However the larger organizations seem to be favoring solutions that come from tier 1 vendors, which is the reason I am targeting medium size localities and smaller.”

Press Releases Available:

“The City of Newport News, Virginia “Open eGov” project merged with PloneGov “

Corresponding news item published on the PloneGov site

Vermont Department of Taxes Announces Open Source Project

Exciting news from the IT team at Vermont Department of Taxes; Gateway, an open source application providing an XML based web service for accepting tax submissions was released today.

According to the description on the project web site on SourceForge where the project is currently hosted, gateway is a JavaEE application developed by the Vermont Department of Taxes. It provides a web services framework for accepting Streamlined Sales Tax registrations and returns. It also includes a web interface for manually submitting transmissions. The goal is to build an extensible framework upon which future tax services can be built.

Congratulations on your first public release!

Public Sector Update: Spring 2007

I’ve had a number of requests for a presentation I did at the Portland, Oregon InnoTech Conference in April 2007, now shared here for easier access. Included was a brief general discussion of OSS adoption trends in the public sector and overviews of a number of current initiatives, touching on local, state, and federal examples ranging from GIS, eGov, to technology and policy frameworks.

Also included in the later portion of the deck; a briefing on the Oregon Virtual School District (OSVD) and key open source technology deployed there supporting the student learning portal and curriculum development and delivery. OSU’s Open Source Lab is doing the OSS-related development on this innovative K-12 project. Contacts and links for further exploration are included for both presentations.

RI State Open Source Pioneer Gains Public Recognition

James Willis, Rhode Island and pioneer in the adoption of open source for his state’s agency’s government web site, recently concluded his tenure with the state. The Providence Business News covered his departure from public service in an extensive article highlighting the work for which Willis gained national recognition. The collaborative model used by this state in which RI agencies opted in to provide and share web content has strengthened its ability to provide greater transparency of information to the citizen it serves, consistent with Willis’ philosophy.  Thanks!