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Open Source/Open Standards

Updated May 2004


Background:

The Council learned late in 2003 that Romney Administration officials Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration & Finance, and Peter Quinn, CIO of the Commonwealth, intended to make changes in the way software was purchased by state government, particularly as it relates to open source software.

Software Council Activity:

The Council hosted two meetings with Kriss, Quinn and others to understand the intent of the state's open source policy. Kriss and Quinn said they were trying to set a technology standard that would allow government agencies to communicate and share data more efficiently, give them greater flexibility over their IT systems and reduce costs. They reported very low adoption by the state (as compared to the commercial world) of well-accepted open source components, such as the Apache web server. They made it clear that their interest was not just in complete open source solutions (such as open source desktop applications running on an open source operating system), but also in the much more common mixed solutions that combine open source elements (such as languages or infrastructure components) with proprietary elements.

In the meetings, Council members pointed out the distinction between "open standards" and "open source" and encouraged state officials to separate the concepts in their statements, policy, and practices - an action the Administration took.

Government Activity:

In January 2004, the state issued its new Open Standards policy.

On March 31, 2004, the state announced its first open standards contract awarded by the Executive Department Legal Counsel for its Virtual Law Office.

Software Council Position:

When state government purchases IT products and services, it should provide a level playing field, in which open source and mixed solutions (combination of open source and proprietary) are considered on the same basis as other solutions, and with issues like functionality, total cost of ownership, and long-term risk assessment determining the successful bidders. In addition, we support the adoption of open standards, wherever appropriate, by state government.


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