Australian govt names new open source preacher

After a small reshuffle resulting in four branches instead of three, the Australian Government Management Information Office (AGIMO) has given the task of communicating open source developments to senior manager Brian Stewart.

Manager of AGIMO’s strategic direction branch, Stewart’s first assignment will be this year’s Linuxworld conference and expo in Sydney next month where he will deliver a keynote address on “open source and the Australian government”.

A spokesperson for AGIMO told Computerworld that Stewart’s responsibilities include looking at how the office can improve the next version of the open source procurement guide and he will also “touch on examples of how open source is being used in the federal government”.

“Open source falls in his branch,” the spokesperson said.

Stewart will join an international line-up of government representatives at Linuxworld from as far afield as China, New Zealand, and Malaysia. Also represented will be Western Australia, New South Wales, the National Archives of Australia, and the United Nations-backed International Open Source Network (IOSN).

Linuxworld conference advisor Pia Waugh said the specialist government sessions will present the opportunity for mutual collaboration by government agencies across the region to “understand the open source opportunity at the business and broader national economic and social level”.

“People invited have been very interested in sharing ideas and working together where it makes sense,” Waugh said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from around the world in what Australia is doing with open source, particularly since the [AGIMO open source procurement] guide.”

As an example, Waugh said, the successful work of the National Archives with open source should be a learning experience for other departments.

“Malaysia will be speaking about the many initiatives it has done [as the] government has taken the challenge to [deploy open source] for internal use,” she said.

Open source aside, Waugh said Malaysia is an “interesting lesson for Australia” because 70 percent of its IT industry is female.

“Up until recently Malaysia had issues getting women in IT,” she said. “But separating primary computer classes into girls and boys, and computer clubs for boys and girls at a young age, had a huge impact for girls to go into computers.”

The conference will also feature a session on certification so “governments can figure out where open source fits into their strategy”.

“Once you get people looking at it, they’re [set, it’s] just getting people to look at it,” Waugh said.

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