|FROM ||Seth Johnson
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Free Software in Federal Government
|From owner-hangout-desteny-at-mrbrklyn.com Thu Mar 21 10:54:30 2002
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Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 10:52:11 -0500
From: Seth Johnson
Organization: Real Measures
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Subject: [hangout] Free Software in Federal Government
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Reply-To: Seth Johnson
List: New Yorkers Linux Scene
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(Forwarded from dotGNU Developers list,
-------- Original Message --------
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 19:38:00 -0500
From: "Tony Stanco"
We (Cyberspace Policy Institute) had our monthly Open Source
in e-Government session with GSA and NSF yesterday. Grant
from NewsForge covered our working group and has a story up
The interesting things that came out yesterday is that
Census built an award winning site all on Open Source with
only volunteers, because it had no budget for the project.
People were amazed that if work gets recognized and awarded
that it wouldn't be funded. Well, the presenters said they
purposefully don't quantify the savings because otherwise
they lose the money for their group in the next budget.
The other thing said which is totally absurd came from a
couple of NOAA IT people in the audience. Their CTO came to
them with a project on a napkin and said, "implement this."
A couple of days later they had done it on MySQL and gave it
to the CTO. He said "great, let's implement it." They said,
"you don't understand, it's done." Well, he didn't accept
that and brought in a major consulting firm which brought in
a well know database company. A year and millions of dollars
later, it is still not working. When the CTO came back to
them and asked what was going on, they said they looked at
each other and just shrugged :-). Another person there who
by coincidence is connected with a high level NOAA person
said the official story given to the executive people on
that incident was that MySQL was not robust enough and that
is why they had to go proprietary. The NOAA IT people said
that was just plain BS.
I was at FOSE today and went to the CIO Council Keynote and
the smaller session with the CIO Council and asked them
about the use of Open Source in Government at both, citing
the examples from NSA's SELinux, Census and NOAA from
yesterday. Long story short - they are looking at it at the
highest levels, though they still have some issues to
overcome to get comfortable like support and implications of
the license. I didn't push it to say those are no longer
issues, because you don't make friends in this town by
embarassing important people in front of large audiences.
However, I will be seeing these same people in April in
Florida with IBM to address their support issues. On the
legal issues, I am working with Eben Moglen, general counsel
of the Free Software Foundation, who enforces the GPL, to
have legal panels to the practicing government lawyers next
year. The NSA lawyers who got themselves comfortable with
the GPL on NSA's SELinux project will be on the panel.
Agency lawyers to agency lawyers is how we will overcome
their second issue.
So, the good news from FOSE is that Open Source is on the
radar screen at the highest levels in government and they
would like to see it happen. The bad news is that there is
still some work to do to get them completely on side. So the
struggle goes on...
New Yorker Linux Users Scene
Fair Use -
because it's either fair use or useless....