Open Source for the Government


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Why is government software of low-quality and how can it be improved? By making it open source. Why and how?

Published in: Government & Nonprofit

Open Source for the Government

  1. 1. Open Source for the Government? Why and how
  2. 2. Vanity slide ● ● @bozhobg ● Senior Software Engineer @ TomTom ● Board member of (Society dot bg) foundation ● realistic idealist
  3. 3. Open Source for the Government?? “You can’t make the ladies behind the desks use OpenOffice and Linux!!
  4. 4. It’s not about Linux... ● “...but in Munich” ● Microsoft Office is a de-facto standard, for good or for bad ● That’s a different story...
  5. 5. Custom software ● The government is constantly placing orders for both specific and generic software ● The government ignores the “rule” o if the problem is widespread - use open source software o if the problem is rare - use an existing commercial solution o if the problem is unique - order a new piece of software ● The government doesn’t have the personnel to adapt and implement even ready-to-use open source projects.
  6. 6. Status quo ● Vendor lock-in ● Abandonware ● Low-quality software ● Bugs and security holes o o (forest) logging registry (?the_wife_of_my_cousin=1) o ...who knows what else? ● Most of that software is owned by the government o ...and sits on CDs in basements ● Even projects using WordPress, Drupal, Joomla are de-facto closed source
  7. 7. Types of government software ● Websites of ministries/agencies/municipalities/programmes ● Registries ● General clerk software ● Specific information systems ● Accountancy software ● egov - middleware, registries, portal, e-services
  8. 8. Electronic governance ● oh… ● what’s the relation between “government software” and “electronic governance” ● The problems of electronic governance o 90% law and administrative и 10% technical o “political will” (cliche alarm)
  9. 9. A solution? (almost) all new projects must be open-sourced
  10. 10. Why? ● Reusability ● Easier extension and support o from a government “system integrator” o from other companies o from NGOs and even citizens ● Transparency o “but...nobody will be watching those projects!” - there are people that will be watching them, don’t worry :)
  11. 11. Experience around the world ● UK- (330 projects) ● US - (2000 projects) ● Estonia - e-voting, egov, X-Road o “All our key projects become open source, including the systems for health care, police, business portals and document exchange” Siim Sikkut, ICT Policy Adviser ● Switzerland
  12. 12. Procedure ● Every company, implementing software, ordered by the government, supplies a URL to a public SCM repo o git or mercurial; preferably GitHub or Bitbucket o must use it actively (and not just synchronize an internal repo with it) ● Public documentation ● Stable master ● The government published the URL of the repo ● The licence used must be approved by FSF or OSI
  13. 13. Why would that work? ● no difference for the company writing the software - even now the product is owned by the government in most cases ● no difference for the government - 10 lines more in the requirements ● total cost of ownership is the same in the worst case [citation needed] ● new business models
  14. 14. “Are you listening to yourself, the government can’t open their systems?!”
  15. 15. Security ● Only the source is publicly available; not the server passwords ● A small portion of the government software is highly critical; a small portion even have a publically-facing interface. ● WordPress is more secure than any website that any company will build. ● Open-source software is more secure o ...except for openssl, bash and small, unpopular projects … :)
  16. 16. No silver bullet... ● not applicable to existing closed-sourced software ● hardly applicable to software that is already developed (even if owned by the government) ● good code != good software ● not every project can be monitored carefully by society ● won’t solve the problems of e-governance, corruption, energy prices or ebola ● can see opposition in the face of malicious companies
  17. 17. ...but if we do something, only in case it solves all problems, then we will never do anything
  18. 18. Licences ● (L)GPL, EUPL, MIT, BSD, Apache? ● permissive vs copyleft ● Using closed-sourced components ● Licence can be selected by the implementing company?
  19. 19. “That’s bullshit, it can’t happen!!” “You aren’t helping...”
  20. 20. So far... ● Wide support for our NGO’s campaign - by citizens, companies, NGOs ● - the open data portal of Bulgaria. It’s a project by, based on CKAN, open-sources, and developed together with two government institutions. ● we are constantly communicating with multiple agencies and ministries ● we are successfully pushing for standard government software requirements that explicitly require open-source
  21. 21. How? If you are competent and adequate, even in the administration there are people that can accept your opinion.
  22. 22. (изображение от Questions?