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Open Source for the Government? 
Why and how
Vanity slide 
● http://techblog.bozho.net 
● @bozhobg 
● Senior Software Engineer @ TomTom 
● Board member of Obshtestvo.bg (Society dot bg) foundation 
● realistic idealist
Open Source for the Government?? 
“You can’t make the ladies behind the desks use OpenOffice and 
Linux!!
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...
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.
Status quo 
● Vendor lock-in 
● Abandonware 
● Low-quality software 
● Bugs and security holes 
o egov.bg 
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
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
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)
A solution? 
(almost) all new projects must be open-sourced
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 :)
Experience around the world 
● UK- http://github.com/alphagov (330 projects) 
● US - http://www.govcode.org/ (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
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
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
“Are you listening to yourself, the government can’t open their 
systems?!”
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 … :)
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
...but if we do something, only in case it 
solves all problems, then we will never do 
anything
Licences 
● (L)GPL, EUPL, MIT, BSD, Apache? 
● permissive vs copyleft 
● Using closed-sourced components 
● Licence can be selected by the implementing company?
“That’s bullshit, it can’t happen!!” 
“You aren’t helping...”
So far... 
● Wide support for our NGO’s campaign - by citizens, companies, NGOs 
● http://opendata.government.bg - the open data portal of Bulgaria. It’s a 
project by obshtestvo.bg, 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
How? 
If you are competent and adequate, even in the administration 
there are people that can accept your opinion.
(изображение от http://exequiel09.github.io/symposium-presentation/) 
Questions?

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Open Source for the Government

  • 1. Open Source for the Government? Why and how
  • 2. Vanity slide ● http://techblog.bozho.net ● @bozhobg ● Senior Software Engineer @ TomTom ● Board member of Obshtestvo.bg (Society dot bg) foundation ● realistic idealist
  • 3. Open Source for the Government?? “You can’t make the ladies behind the desks use OpenOffice and Linux!!
  • 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. 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. Status quo ● Vendor lock-in ● Abandonware ● Low-quality software ● Bugs and security holes o egov.bg 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. 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. 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. A solution? (almost) all new projects must be open-sourced
  • 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. Experience around the world ● UK- http://github.com/alphagov (330 projects) ● US - http://www.govcode.org/ (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. 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. 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. “Are you listening to yourself, the government can’t open their systems?!”
  • 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. 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. ...but if we do something, only in case it solves all problems, then we will never do anything
  • 18. Licences ● (L)GPL, EUPL, MIT, BSD, Apache? ● permissive vs copyleft ● Using closed-sourced components ● Licence can be selected by the implementing company?
  • 19. “That’s bullshit, it can’t happen!!” “You aren’t helping...”
  • 20. So far... ● Wide support for our NGO’s campaign - by citizens, companies, NGOs ● http://opendata.government.bg - the open data portal of Bulgaria. It’s a project by obshtestvo.bg, 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. How? If you are competent and adequate, even in the administration there are people that can accept your opinion.