Through OSSCOM.org, we work with partners from the region and Europe to contribute to creating more jobs to ICT graduates in consonance to workforce and ICT sector development strategies. The intervention on partnership with enterprises and specifically OSS domain is apparent with universities lacking effective industry linkages as well as prominent expertise in OSS knowledge domain.
Governments can play an important role in widening the use of OSS as an alternative solution to proprietary software, and encouraging ICT suppliers and integrators to evaluate open source options when designing solutions and services. The software market is a rapidly developing environment and any service implementation may become obsolete in few years. Therefore, OSS option has proven to be useful to limit costs and expenditures for continuous updates and upgrades and deliver significant short and long term cost savings across Government IT.
2. Examples of adoption of OSS in governments
India - The Government of Kerala, India, announced its official support for free/open-source software in its State IT Policy of 2001.
Jordan - In January 2010, the Government of Jordan announced that it has formed a partnership with Ingres Corporation, a leading open source database management company based in the United States to promote the use of open-source software starting with university systems in Jordan.
Malaysia - Malaysia launched the "Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Program", saving millions on proprietary software licences till 2008.
France - In March, the French Gendarmerie Nationale announced it will totally switch to Ubuntu by 2015.
Germany - The German City of Munich announced its intention to switch from Microsoft Windows-based operating systems to an open-source implementation of SuSE Linux in March 2003.
Portugal - The Portuguese Vieira do Minho Municipality began switching to free and open source software in 2000.
USA - The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced its formal adoption of the OpenDocument standard for all Commonwealth entities. In February 2009, the United States White House moved its website to Linux servers using Drupal for content management.
Brazil - In 2006, the Brazilian government has simultaneously encouraged the distribution of cheap computers running Linux throughout its poorer communities by subsidizing their purchase with tax breaks.
Ecuador - Ecuador government passed a similar law, Decree 1014, designed to migrate the public sector to Libre Software.
Peru - In 2005, the Government of Peru voted to adopt open source across all its bodies. In the preamble to the bill, the Peruvian government stressed that the choice was made to ensure that key pillars of democracy were safeguarded: "The basic principles which inspire the Bill are linked to the basic guarantees of a state of law."
Venezuela - In 2004, a law in Venezuela (Decree 3390) went into effect, mandating a two-year transition to open source in all public agencies. As of June 2009 this ambitious transition is still under way.
2. OSS Technologies
The enormous wide spread and adoption of the Internet played a vital role in connecting people together and created a platform for collaboration and innovation. People from different backgrounds and knowledge upbringings can collaboratively work together toward accomplishing monumental projects and tasks. Open Source Software development is one of these positive outcomes that have been flourishing over the past two decades and have been producing plethora of free software for people to use and benefit from.
In order to encourage the open software adoption in society, several governments in different countries have implemented many open software solutions into their organizations. Thus leading others by example and sending a very clear message to other organizations and companies that we should all use and encourage open software development and adoption in various fields and majors. One prime example of the OSS adoption by governmental bodies is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one of the largest users in the federal government adopting Open Source Software and providing open source solutions and applications to its large customer base.
The benefits of implementing OSS are enormous, some of which can be summarized as follows:
1. Due to its license free policy and cost effectiveness, deploying an OSS will expedite services’ launching and make it easier solution when compared to non-free closed software solutions
2. Adoption of OSS results in low procurement prices, no license costs, and provides better opportunities for interoperability, integration, and customization as well as reduces barriers to reuse, conformance to open technology and data standards giving autonomy over your own information and freedom from vendor lock in.
3. OSS will take advantage of the large number of OSS developers and communities distributed around the globe, that will help in further developing the software and fixing any bugs
4. OSS can be easily customized to government requirements and specifications
5. OSS provides a better security solution to governmental operations, since their source code is open and can be modified to adhere to higher levels of security as needed
6. OSS based companies can provide the needed customer support and training for certain fees that facilitate a faster adoption into the OSS realm
There are significant and wide ranging obstacles to Open Source in Government. Some of these are:
1. Lack of clear procurement guidance
2. Resistance from suppliers
3. Concerns about license obligations and patent issues
4. Misunderstanding of the security accreditation process
5. Myths around open source quality, support and its development ecosystem
4. OSS services
Below is a list of candidate open source solutions and applications that may be implemented at governments:
1. Operating Systems
2. Project management software
3. Webservers and database engines
4. Integrated Library Management Software
5. Institution management software such as:
7. Multimedia tools
Audio editing: Audacity