Open Technology Foundation denied AGIMO support

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Open Technology Foundation denied AGIMO support

State Government project seeks start-up funding.

A South Australia-led initiative to promote and support open technology in governments was yet to secure Federal Government support.

Spearheaded by SA Government ICT service delivery director Stephen Schmid, the Open Technology Foundation sought $2.71 million in start-up funding over three years.

It was the latest iteration - "plan L", Schmid said - of a project to increase exposure and reduce perceived risks of government open source adoption.

The initiative was supported by State Governments, the New Zealand Government, Australian Local Government Association, Labor Senator Kate Lundy, IBM and Microsoft, Schmid said.

But it failed to win over a Cross-Jurisdictional CIO Committee chaired by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

A spokesman from the Department of Finance and Deregulation explained that while open source was "in wide use across the Australian Government", AGIMO took a neutral position on open source.

"Based on the Committee's decision, AGIMO formally declined South Australia's request to be involved in the OTF," she told iTnews.

"AGIMO has a policy of informed neutrality regarding open source software with value for money across the total cost of ownership of the software being the overriding principle for its use."

But Bryan King of the SA Office of the CIO yesterday told delegates at the open source OSSPAC conference that "open source for Government hasn't made any major penetration".

King explained that public sector IT departments faced "three Es": extra risk of new projects; entrapment by vendor lock-ins; and the ego-stroking marketing tactics of larger vendors.

While he was "ideologically more predisposed to open source", King said "we're not encouraged to take risks, we're not encouraged to do anything extra".

Those barriers could be reduced if government organisations more successfully shared "siloed information" on their open source deployments, Schmid said.

He hoped the OTF would provide a functional open technology discussion forum to "glue" together government organisations and the industry.

According to the OTF business plan (pdf), it would be jointly owned by Australian governments and incorporated, with a general manager, board of directors and advisory committees.

Schmid also hoped to recruit academics, like PhD-level researchers, to provide figures on the costs and benefits of interoperability, open standards and open source deployments.

He hoped to have the organisation established by January, noting that its focus was on collaboration rather than procurement, which was the role of ICT Supplier Advocate Don Easter.

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