Panel Discussion on the Value of Open Source in Government



April 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. The perspectives from all of the panelists were very valuable. The accessibility of video/audio recording technology and the convenience of online delivery tools like, YouTube & Vimeo gives your events so much more impact.

The focus of the panel/questions was rather general, but this is Ottawa, so there was a lot of discussion about the involvement of government. Andrew used Google's new Moderator Application to help evaluate questions to present, and I think that worked quite well. It was the same tool used by Barack Obama when he took questions from citizens (mind you he had a lot more votes/questions).

The business folks did seem to agree that the Canadian government procurement policies seemed to favour proprietary tools & big corporations. There also seemed to be agreement of the value of promoting open source within government for many reasons (local economic growth, improved security, flexibility, standards based, etc.)

It was fascinating to hear from both the Eclipse Foundation & the Open Source Geospatial Foundation's approach to the role of foundations in getting buy-in from government. I do think that there are so many ways that government and business can contribute to the endorsement of tools that benefit the larger community.


About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.