Today was the day for the 3 parallel tracks to run – FOSS in Government, Localisation, and Building FOSS Capacities. Torn between the three, I participated at the FOSS in Government working group.

Mention of making sure open standards is in use (ala Australia’s national archives using an open XML standard), as well as using C/C++ which are ISO standards, while C# is a Microsoft standard – which would you trust if you were a government?

Code reuse will save IT budgets in the long run – each and every government department doesn’t have to re-write code. Heck, businesses (that pay tax) don’t have to rewrite code that needs to deal with government process. I also mentioned that in procurement costs, make sure that the entire life cycle cost analysis is performed – end-of-life migration costs are hardly ever thought about during procuring the new system.

More useful things came out, and the usual bits on increasing awareness to the officials (government, NGOs, businesses, etc…). Awareness among the techies exist, but we need better marketing tactics. We need more central information that “just works” for governments; making them find old HOWTOs that don’t work anymore just turn them away from FLOSS. Education needs to happen at some stage – there have to be more FOSS professionals rather than just trained MCSE’s.

The general idea of a support network was proposed from all working groups, and I presume we’re going to be making use of the International Open Source Network (IOSN) site a lot more. The day ended with food, and a door gift – a pewter card holder, and some posters.