Thursday, October 02, 2008

BPN 1238 Open Source and eGovernment

Last year the Dutch government agreed to move to Open Source. And hardly had they agreed on the decisison, then the signing for maintenance contract of Microsoft software came up. The vice-minister said I do not know anything about software, so we will sign the contract. And the computing entrepreneur, turned deputy department secretary, thought it wiser to sign the contract as the computer personnel and the infrastructure were not ready for the switch yet.

But now it looks like there is some movement into the direction of Open Source and Open Standards. The government has appointed an ambassador for the promotion of Open Source in government and semi-government (provinces and municipalities). And even a government institution , the Netherlands Patent Office (NPO), has changed to Open Source.

The new ambassador, Erik Gerritsen, will have to push the civil servants to move over to Open Standards and Open Source software. He is in fact the promoter of the 2007 action plan Nederland Open in Verbinding (The Netherlands Open in Connection). Part of the plan is to make an inventory of the status quo in government. The results of this inventory will be published in November. Personally I expect that it will show that the Dutch government is Microsoft country. The new ambassador in the meantime promotes the action plan and collects examples of success to show that a change over to Open Standards and Open Software is possible. He will also be a consultant to departments and accompany organisation in changing over.

Presently he has the Dutch Patent Office as an example of an institution changing over to Open Standards and Open Software. It is in fact the first government institute which changes over. The website of the NPO is constructed under Open Source software, while the NPO uses Joomla as open source content management system. The next step will be the implementation of Open Source software in the office environment, including desktop computers) and the customer relation software. This should be implemented by 2009.

There is also some movement from the municipalities. They work together in the development of their websites in the project TYPO3gem ( ). The members of the project decide about the functionalities needed for e-Government and produce the specifications. They bundle their financial means to get the system implemented and will run a common helpdesk.

Blog Posting Number: 1238

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