2009. november 30., hétfő

Walloon Government to start using OSOR repository

The Walloon Government wants to use the European Commission's open source software repository and development platform (OSOR Forge), announced Béatrice Van Bastelaer, Commissioner of the eAdministration and Simplification Agency of the Walloon Region (EASI-WAL), at a workshop in the Belgian city of Charleroi on 26 November 2009.

"Using and developing open source software is not our primary aim, but it does give us the solutions that we need: flexible, upgradable and at reasonable cost. This type of software help us to avoid vendor lock-in; we can re-use them, we share them and in most cases, we pay for them just once", said Van Bastelaer.

The conference attracted about two hundred attendees, including some fifty representatives of public administrations in the Walloon Region.
One of the aims of the open source seminar was to make these aware of the issues of procuring open source software. Van Bastelaer for instance explained how managing an open source project brings new challenges in terms of expertise and soft skills for civil servants.

"Understanding the context of open source projects is essential. For example, public administrators need to realise the importance of re-distribution of code. And there are all kinds of other issues that need to be taken care of, such as proper documentation."

Attendees debated whether requesting open source would be discriminatory. However, according to François Elie, the chairman of Adullact, a French organisation for civil servants involved in open source "anyone can participate in such a tender, even vendors that usually provide only proprietary software".

On behalf of Rudy Demotte, the Minister-President of the Walloon Government, a spokesperson presented the section on Open Source in the region's IT policy. "(The Walloon region shall) promote systematically the use of open source software and open standards in the regional administrations and promote their use by citizens, communes and companies."

Also presented at the conference were Tabellio, an open source workflow system and content management software aimed to be used by parliaments, municipal councils and other governmental assemblies, and Lutece, an open source portal management software.

A few of the civil administrators expressed their worries on the use open source. During one of the sessions, they cited getting negative reactions from management and being pressured by proprietary vendors. "Come on, civil servants", responded one of the presenters. "To get fired you need to kill your superior, with evil premeditation. Moving to open source is a small risk to take, I dare you." 

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