Open Source Voting Systems On the Way


I’ve recently been asked to join as an adviser to the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.  In my view, this is one of the most important open source projects around for the US system of democracy.  I was deeply impressed by their open standards specification,  public trust approach and the work they’ve done thus far – with little public fan fare – to establish the non-partisan initiative which has become known as “TrustTheVote!”.

Recognizing a large, active OSS community exists in Oregon, the OSDV is coming to Portland on February 18th to introduce their project.  Although the meeting content is designed for a technical audience, the project overview and progress-to-date would be of interest to many.

Here’s a description of the event.  You can also view details including a map to the event at Portland’s CubeSpace on Yahoo or Calagator.  If you’re in the area, hope to see you there!

TrustTheVote! intro in Portland, Oregon, Feb 18, 2009

Discover this imperative “public digital works project” of the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation. The OSDV Foundation is a Silicon Valley based public benefits corporation whose mission is to work to restore trust in how America votes through the design, development, and demonstration of open source digital voting technology.

Join us to learn details about the “TrustTheVote Project,” a well funded non-profit effort which has been under the radar for 2 years. The OSDV Foundation is now raising public awareness, and expanding efforts including a planned development center in Portland, Oregon.

Our guests are two executives of the Foundation including its Chief Technology Officer. Their presentation will:

  • Introduce the project, its motivation, founding, and development efforts to date;
  • Walk through the TrustTheVote technology road map and review major projects underway;
  • Discuss development philosophies and approaches including experience-driven design and test-driven agile development;
  • Review opportunities for systems architects, software developers, SDQA/test specialists, and user experience designers;
  • Cover plans to expand the volunteer developer teams, future opportunities for senior members of technical staff, and opportunities for you to get involved.

Gregory Miller, Chief Development Officer

E. John Sebes, Chief Technology Officer

event on: Yahoo or Calagator

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.

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.

Continue reading

Public Health IT and Open Source Software | Focus at GOSCON 2008

I’m happy to report GOSCON this year is featuring more government open source projects and implementations that ever.  I’m especially excited about our Open Public Health IT track which covers the spectrum between local and international governments and vendors.  GOSCON is all about building the IT ecosystem and I’m pleased to say this will be an outstanding showcase innovative work done by agencies as thoughtful stewards of our tax dollars.  Enough said.  Here’s the press release in full for your perusal:

(okay – must add….  you can read the case study for the Health Atlas Ireland project on the web site).

Portland, Ore. – September 18, 2008 – Deb Bryant, Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) director, announced today that the fourth annual 2008 conference will feature an Open Public Health IT track to explore both a strategic direction for open source in the public health sector as well as real-world applications that are in use today by agencies around the world.
For the first time, GOSCON is bringing together thought leaders in government, open source, and public health who will share their deep, practical experience in public health, enterprise architectures, standards, as Continue reading

Open Source Software to Support EPA’s National Environmental Information Exchange Network

I’m not a fan of simply passing along a press release, but I found this one to exemplifiy the growing trend I see in open source software in government;

  • OSS adoption and use is moving beyond tools and infrastructure and up the stack
  • More vendors are becoming involved in providing services and support, key to successful government IT strategies (proprietary or open source)
  • And something I’ve been saying for four years; the greatest value to governments lies in the model itself, creating collaborative communities with common program missions and business requirements.

"CGI Announces Open Source Software to Support EPA’s National Environmental Information Exchange Network

FAIRFAX, VA, June 3 — CGI Federal, Inc., a wholly-owned U.S. operating subsidiary of CGI Group Inc. (NYSE: GIB; TSX: GIB.A), today announced the release of the first Open Source Node 2.0 software product to be available to EPA data exchange partners on the National Environmental Information Exchange Network (Exchange Network). The CGI Node 2.0 software is offered to Exchange Network partners and other interested members of the environmental community to give them capabilities to publish, share, and gain access to environmental data for improved decision making.

The National Environmental Information Exchange Network includes EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX), the point of entry for Agency environmental data exchanges. Together, CDX and the Exchange Network partners’ nodes are the infrastructure that enable efforts to collect, share and monitor the environmental data used to assess the impact of global warming, monitor the safety of our water supplies, gather geographic information on sources of pollution, and encourage overall excellence in the study and stewardship of our environment.

CGI Node 2.0 represents an expansion of this community to allow sharing across federal, state, commercial and citizen boundaries related to software development and technological innovation. It allows users to collaborate, publish, and discover environmental information and services across disparate systems. The node’s dashboard allows for quick and easy reporting, scheduling, and administration capabilities.

"Flexible and rapid data exchange capabilities are critical to responding to environmental challenges faced by government agencies and their trading partners," said Melanie Morris, Chief of Data Integration Division, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. "Establishing the building blocks of an Open Source community that supports environmental collaboration and decision making will help stakeholders leverage their investments and capitalize on shared business drivers."

CGI Vice President Kenyon Wells added: "CGI is proud of our long history in helping EPA meet its mission of protecting the environment. Our open source software is the latest example of how CGI invests in the success of its clients and will allow Exchange Network partners to save money while promoting standardization for the sharing of important environmental data."

CGI will be hosting a Webinar to demonstrate the CGI Node 2.0 on June 4th. For more information about this event or about the Node product please refer to the CGI Environmental Practice Website:

Source: CGI GROUP INC. CONTACT: Peter Cutler, Director, Communications, (703) 227-6933,"