Best Practices for Software Development in Government

presentationimagepngLast winter I received a request from the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy to come Charleston and meet with a group of innovative law enforcement execs. If you belong to the public safety community or are interested in how governments are making collaboratives work, a copy of my presentation is viewable on google from this link:

http://docs.google.com/Presentation?id=dfj65hxm_1404gk5kchg

Brazil Video Short: Software Livre – Free Software Initiative

Last week I posted the transcript of Marcos Vinicius Ferreira Mazoni comments addressing the International Open ICT Summit at GOSCON on the sustained government initiative in Brazil to use free open source software and open standards.  Mazoni’s encouragement to increase the dialog between countries resonated with participants in Portland and those joining by video conference, representing a half dozen continents.

The original video is now available in Portuguese, with English subtitles and runs five minutes.

Community Source and Goverment Applications

I’m working on following up with a number of requests for information post-GOSCON.  Always number one on my list; agencies looking to determine if/how they might jump in to using open source software development methodology to produce government-specific applications.  These applications are typically costly since the market for such is limited.  Developing the same vertical application for all Secretaries of State’s office, for example, is still just fifty customers and makes for a small pool to amortize the cost of commercial development.

The one of the early pioneers of community source model is Dr. Brad Wheeler at Indiana University.  In late 2006 the Open Source Lab management team interviewed him by video conference to extract some advice for others on creating governance for a community source project.  I came across the resulting  debrief and thought I’d put it somewhere it could be shared more broadly.  Here it is for download:

“Community Source” Project Governance:
The Sakai Project as a Potential Reference Model for Public Sector Community Source Development

I think it’s valuable to consider that the model of shared development suggest benefits beyond sharing the cost and resulting application, such as sharing business practices and processes, knowledge base and documentation.  But I digress.  We’ll share more from the experts from our Open Government Collaboratives 2008 panel as soon as we get the conference media through GOSCON post-production.

GOSCON/World Bank Global Webcast Scheduled

International Government Open Source Dignitaries Lead Discussion

I promised to share information on the webcast when it became available.  Here it is:

Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON),  Oregon State University

and the World Bank’s e-Development Thematic Group

invite you to join via live webcast a
videoconferenced Global Dialogue between Portland, Washington DC, Moscow,
Colombo, Dakar, Accra, Kigali and Brasilia on:

The Impact of Open Source Software on Transforming Government

12:00 – 3:00 pm (Washington DC time), October 20, 2008

LIVE WEBCAST: http://www.worldbank.org/edevelopment/live

Preregistration is recommended at the webcast site.

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Census Says: Governments are Biggest Users of Open Source Software

Objective data, benchmarks and other numeric tangibles have been difficult to come by when discussing the update of open source software in Government.  Much analysis remains the domain of corporate-sponsored reports, so its always interesting to see published indicators.  I talk to agencies – in the US and abroad – every day that use open source software so anecdotal evidence abounds.  But numbers, of course, are better.

Although a press release certainly isn’t a peer-reviewed paper, it does reflect and validate what us government folks have known for some time; government agencies have been earlier-than-usual adopter of open source and are using it extensively.  This according to the Open Source Census project.  Their initial Continue reading

Open Source PBX | Asterisk

Asterisk Logo

I’ve had numerous calls recently asking me about the (to simplify) open source version of PBX software, Asterisk.  Several years ago the State of Oregon extensively tested and deployed an Asterisk server, then later developed several cost-effective applications on the platform which their agency customer could not have otherwise afforded. They wrote up a brief case study on their experience, so I thought I’d post it here for sharing. Kudos to the Department of Administrative Services, Data and Video Services for being ahead of their time on this one. Today, numerous governmental agencies have deployed Asterisk. Here in Oregon, that includes the Portland Metropolitan Service District.

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Small Town, Big Use of Open Source Software

One of the local government stories (success and challenge) we’d hoped to see at GOSCON this year was from the City of Northglenn, Colorado.  Christine Martinez,  formerly a systems analyst there, can’t join us this year but she was kind enough to share her slide set on that city’s extensive use of open source software which she presented last year at the 2007 National Association of Government Webmasters Conference held in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

The project list covered in the presentation includes:

  • Joomla! CMS (and custom supporting applications)
  • PHPSurveyor
  • WebDocs
  • PHPLists
  • NGDIS (Northglenn Document Imaging System)
  • Police Bulletin Board

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of E-Government.  Northglenn’s out-the-box thinking netted web services to city employees that they could use without the IT department’s intervention.  And how many small towns have a document imaging system?  If you’re living in a small town, government transparency by way of the Internet depends on the webmaster’s work load and vacation schedule.  Good Content Management Systems (CMS) make it easy for non-technical public service employees to share  what’s up at your seat of government.  Impressive and resourceful.

You can view the presentation on GoogleDocs.