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Open Source Governance
Alex Steffen, 15 Jan 04

Folks continue to redistribute the future at a pretty fair clip.

Rajesh Jain writes about the problem of software for governance, quoting Consulting Times that "To operate a local government requires approximately 200 separate software applications. ... Additionally, of the approximately 200 applications needed by local governments, only 25 or so exist in the market. Of the remainder, local governments must write their own or hire a contract programming firm to create them. Every time a local government unit pays for a separate "build-to-suit" application, they waste the public's money."

Rajesh thinks he has a solution: get computing students in the developing world to assemble a suite of Open Source governance programs. "This," he writes, "will be a win-win for everyone: for students, it will give them first-hand knowledge of real-world problems, and for the govenrment, it will create solutions for the paperwork problems." It's an elegant solution, solving more than one problem at once: students get valuable experience, and governments around the world get a much-needed free set of tools for better doing their jobs, taxpayers save money.

Meanwhile, from the newly-discovered and much-appreciated Techstrategy we learn of the white paper Open Source Software: Perspectives for Development, an outstanding overview of some of the benefits and trade-offs involved in pursuing Open Source solutions, which includes some great case studies like the Goa Schools Computer Project, the Jhai Project, Sao Paulo's Telecentros and localized ICT in Tajikistan.

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GPL'd, or Free Software, is the best investment for governments. There's usually a heated debate on this on mailing lists, but the fact remains that GPL avoids citizens for paying for the same software more than once. Those interested can read about it here:

Posted by: Taran on 15 Jan 04

Err... 'remains that *the* GPL avoids *the issue of* citizens paying for the same software more than once'.

Man, I need more coffee.

Posted by: Taran on 15 Jan 04



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