A Fresh Look at FOSS Policy Failure in the SA Government

A presentation by Dr Derek W. Keats on an ecosystem approach to FOSS policy failure in the South African government. Watch at https://youtu.be/1bUMnpAgwK0 or click below.

An ecosystem approach to FOSS policy failure in the South African government

SITA braves open source – ITweb 11 June 2008

The State IT Agency (SITA) is transferring its entire technology infrastructure to free, open source and open standards software (FOSS).

SITA CEO Llewellyn Jones says the organisation hopes to complete this process within the next four to five months.

“We are doing a lot around FOSS within our organisation. In terms of our back-end environment, we are already using open source to a large extent. Now we are focusing on our user environment; open source offerings are just as good as – and sometimes even better than – their proprietary competitors,” he explains.

The organisation’s chief information officer, Eghshaan Khan, says this is a positive move for SITA, but admits he has some concerns.

“This movement proves again that open source or FOSS is not a myth. We embrace the principles of FOSS: interoperability, building communities and sharing. The one concern I have though is change management. We are confident the software portfolio we have chosen is just as good, if not better, than what our people have been working on; but, they need to discover this for themselves in order to buy into the project,” he explains.

SITA has chosen Ubuntu for its desktop operating environment. Running on top of this will be open office, as well as several other FOSS applications, aimed at improving SITA’s collaborative and engagement environments.

SITA’s transition to FOSS is seen as an important step in its promotion of open standards to government departments.

Jones explains: “How can we encourage our customers to adopt FOSS when we ourselves are not far enough advanced with our transition? Yes, we have seen Cabinet adopt an open source policy; but our responsibility is to be a proof point to our public sector customers.”

Despite government’s policy on FOSS, Jones says the agency has received mixed reactions from its customers on adopting open source software.

“The question is always going to be around comfort levels and interoperability concerns. Some departments already have strong open source philosophies, like Home Affairs, while others would rather delay as long as possible.”

From https://www.itweb.co.za/content/O2rQGMA54XXMd1ea

South African National Cabinet Statement Approving Open Source Software Policy and Strategy for Government – 21 Feb 2007

From https://www.gcis.gov.za/content/newsroom/media-releases/cabinet-statements/statement-cabinet-meeting-21-february-2007

“Cabinet approved a policy and strategy for the implementation of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in government. All new software developed for or by the Government will be based on open standards and government will itself migrate current software to FOSS. This strategy will, among other things, lower administration costs and enhance local Information Technology (IT) skills. The meeting noted that all the major IT vendors in the country have both supported the initiative and made contributions to the development of FOSS. Government departments will incorporate FOSS in their planning henceforth. By April 2007, a project office will be set up by the Department of Science and Technology, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to ensure smooth implementation of FOSS throughout the country.”

SITA FOSS Focus Newsletter – October 2009

In this issue:

  • Welcome note by Nthabiseng Mosupye – Chairperson of the Open Source Standing Committee
  • FOSS backend migration at the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry)
  • Open-source software at FNB bank
  • The open-source project in CSIR’s Meraka Institute
  • State of South African government websites in relation to open standards
  • The Limpopo Office of the Premier calls for change
  • Report on FOSS implementation by national government departments
  • The IFMS solution and the use of FOSS
  • FOSS4G by Clinton Papenfus
  • How big is Linux?
  • The Editor’s Choice: 8 most prominent open-source products