Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dutch Open Source consultation (1)

I am not in The Netherlands, but I wish I was there today. This afternoon a consultation document about Open Source was presented to the Dutch vice-minister of Economic Affairs. It is not the hottest thing on the list of the vice-minister, but he wanted to make time for it as he considers it an important subject.

And he better considers it an important subject as in the past years lip service was paid to the subject, but no real actions came about. So some months ago the idea came up to organise conference around the theme of Open Source. This was not new, but it would have been a great occasion to explore the opportunities in government and democracy. The idea of a conference was not very welcome with civil servants, who had received the task to write a document for parliament telling about the priorities and plans for the future.

This was in fact unbelievable. In an open source environment civil servant do not push citizens to participate in writing a policy document on Open Source and the future of it in The Netherlands and Europe. At that time the idea came up to use internet and start a open consultation and offer this to a cabinet minister. And thus the open consultation round came about. Together with the Dutch ISOC chapter, the foundation Livre and Media Update and foundation Holland Open a press release was sent out.

Of course the initiators were afraid that no one would jump to the opportunity, except for one lonely heart, deploring the negligence of the past cabinets. But to their surprise the anxious expectations were not met. More than 30 documents arrived with surprising proposals and potential policy measures. So the vice-minister of Economic Affairs - and not of Internal Affairs as planned - did accept the document.

So the ball is now in his court. He will have the document of the civil servants, but also a document of concerned and well informed citizens. In principle he has now everything in his hands in order to set out a policy for the coming cabinet period and execute it; for that was what was lacking since the policy document and motions of 2002.

It is too simple to say that Open Source would save the country a lot of money. But is is certain that Open Source would generate a lot of useful software for government, schools and libraries as well as for citizens.

Blog Posting Number: 781


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