Government

By Mike Gifford on 22/05/2009
I've been thinking a lot recently about the accessibility of information that the government collects sometimes even distributes. We've blogged about problems getting information about postal code to riding data in the past. We ended up purchasing the data, but each time we do it is so inefficient it seems like it must cost the government more to sell it to me than give it away. Fortunately, there's been a lot of movement in this area around the world and there are a lot of good things to be inspired by.
In the USA today the Obama administration launched Data.gov which aims to "increase...
By Mike Gifford on 01/05/2009
This is a reprint of the article originally published in OSBR's May Issue under the title The Feds are Ready for a Change
"OSS is indeed the start of a fundamental change in the software infrastructure marketplace, but it is not a hype bubble that will burst and [the] UK government must take cognizance of that fact." Douglas Alexander
Canada is at the tipping point for acceptance of open source. Open source software (OSS) and culture has reached a critical mass in the business world and it is also being actively deployed within the Canadian government. While open source has contributed...
By Mike Gifford on 04/04/2009
I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a panel discussion organized by Andrew Ross of Ingress. The panel from left to right Roger Burkhardt (Ingres), Jean Bernatchez (Enterprise Stewardship and Internal Services Strategies, Chief Information Officer Branch, Treasury Board of Canada), Dave McIlhagga (DM Solutions), me & Donald Smith (Eclipse):
Business value of open source panel discussion from Andrew Ross on Vimeo.
I had a hard time focusing on what I was going to say to some of the questions that were presented to the panel, because of the responses from the other panelists...
By Mike Gifford on 05/03/2009
One of the things is common in technology conferences these days is side gatherings that are informally called to discuss certain issues.  They are generally referred to as Birds of a Feather Gathering.  Today I participated in two sessions (discussing nonprofits & CiviCRM) and initiated two (focusing on governments & unions).  All were quite interesting and a good opportunity to talk with people passionate about a sector they are involved in.
In both sessions there were nearly 15 people involved.  Considering the multiple presentations and discussion sessions that were available at...
By Mike Gifford on 13/02/2009
Getting a survey of what software is used across all of the departments within the Government of Canada would be an extremely exhaustive process.  I'm quite sure that there are many employees of the federal government who already are spending considerable time counting their proprietary licenses.  So, how is it possible to get a quick overview of how open source is being used, since there are no contractual responsibilities to report it?
With websites a lot of basic information is generally offered up from the server, and with a well established site like Netcraft we can do a quick audit of...
By Mike Gifford on 11/02/2009
One of the reasons given about why the government should worry about open source software is security.  I'm rather tired of this argument, so after hearing it one too many times, I decided to take some action. 
The concern is that if a piece of software is open for everyone, including hackers, it will be more vulnerable. This has been shot down any number of times, with some of the best known arguments stemming from the idea that many eyeballs will give you better confidence in the security of your software. Others security experts that have argued that good open source software is as secure...
By Mike Gifford on 03/02/2009
I attended an excellent talk last night about GCPedia that was presented by Jeff Braybrook, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Canada at a Third Tuesday Ottawa Gathering. It was excellent to hear more about the history of the adoption of the open source tool Mediawiki within the Government of Canada. Jeff described Canada's CTO office as being "Hawkish about open source", and wanting to use it as much as possible. At a time when procurement officers and IT departments are still questioning whether or not open source can be used within government, this was great news.
His view that wiki's...
By Mike Gifford on 03/01/2009
So I decided it would be interesting to do a bit of a search within the Government of Canada's public pages for use or mentions of wiki's.  There's been quite a lot of discussion on this front in 2008, so wanted to see where things stood at the beginning of 2009. 
Unfortunately there were only 404 references to the term wiki within domains with a *.gc.ca domain.  Most wiki's aren't public so that isn't too surprising, and the two big instances of wiki implementation within the Government of Canada (GCpedia & NRCan's wiki) certainly aren't visible outside of their networks.  Most of these...
By Mike Gifford on 04/12/2008
I spent two days earlier this week in presentations to largely government employees about accessibility issues. It was organized by GOL Communications and we were invited largely to do with our work on the working to establish a collaborative CLF themes. 
There were more presentations about WCAG 2.0 than I'd ever heard prior to this event, and it was interesting to have it broken down int for principals that were pretty understandable.  We must all strive to make websites perceivable, operable, understandable & robust.  Surely focusing on those priorities as content developers would make...
By Mike Gifford on 28/11/2008
I just had a meeting with my representative from the CFIB, I am certain that without receiving information from them I would never have known about the requirement that the Ontario Ministry of Labour places on employers.  Apparently, the Ministry has an additional 200 staff to enforce the requirement that all work places display the latest Employment Standards Poster.  Now, the fines that they are issuing for not posting the latest version of the poster are not insignificant, so this certainly feels like a cash grab by the government. I think that the assumption is that if you are a business...

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