Gov’t to follow up on open source interest

Open source seminars sponsored by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) may become a regular feature in Canberra after a successful gathering of speakers and CIOs from government departments and agencies earlier this week.

“This will probably be the first of a series,” said NOIE CEO, John Rimmer. “And it would be very useful if we could get other agencies to speak at future seminars about their experiences with open source software (OSS) as it develops,” he added.

The seminar held on Tuesday included speakers from the vendor community such as IBM Corp. and even Microsoft Corp. along with the Australian Unix Users Group (AUUG) and IT managers from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Bureau of Meteorology — all users of OSS.

In his presentation Rimmer described NOIE’s general approach to the issue of OSS as one of “sceptical neutrality — between proprietary software and open source software, as well as between vendors.”

He said NOIE decided to hold the seminar because of the general interest in OSS, “and specifically because agency CIOs expressed interest at a previous seminar in receiving more information about OSS and related issues.”

Gordon Hubbard, chairman of the AUUG, said the seminar was “one step along the road” to deploying open source software in government departments. “We need more similar types of activities. This will result in growth in deployment and knowledge of open source software.”

Given the success of the seminar, Hubbard believed NOIE should hold more in the future. “We were pleased overall with the seminar and that the issues are being looked at seriously. The networking that was going on with the folk that were there seemed to be quite useful. People were finding out about projects and areas of interests,” he said.

Although the NOIE-sponsored seminar tackled the issue of OSS, it was aimed at senior level IT decision makers within government departments. Hubbard pointed out that AUUG will also being holding a similar type of symposium in Canberra at the Australian National University on March 1, which, he said, will be more technical in nature and aimed at the grassroots. Information on this event can be found at the AUUG site.