These recommendations followed after the National Cabinet approval in August 2003 on the policy on OSS. These recommendations proposed a set of policy enhancements to shift the overall policy posture from one that was neutral-to-enabling to one that was enabling-to-proactive. They also incorporated Open Content into the policy and brought to the fore important issues around intellectual property rights and Open Standards.
The National Advisory Council on Innovation is a body set up by South African Act of Parliament to advise the Minister of Arts Culture Science and Technology, as well as Cabinet as a whole, on Science and Technology issues. They formulated these recommendations which included non-negotiable open standards as well as a FOSS policy encouraging the use of FOSS and ensuring a level playing field between FOSS and proprietary software with regards to procurement.
The address was made at the third Idlelo African Conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and the Digital Commons. The Minister commented about the Free Software movement in Africa as well as about the adoption of Open Standards and MIOS with a specific mention about ODF for exchanging office documents. She also commented about the leading vendor of office software who chose not to participate and support ODF in its products but rather to develop its own competing document standard which was then awaiting ISO approval.
The Minister also made comments about software patents and their anti-competitive nature.
Watch the video at https://youtu.be/dJ5E4EpYlSQ
The letter was issued on 20 December 2007 by Prof Richard Levin as Acting DG of DPSA. It referred the Cabinet endorsement of the FOSS Implementation Plan and Strategy (it was attached) and referred to one of the actions being the revision of the MIOS. It further stated that the MIOS v1.4 was signed by the Minister for PSA which included the stipulation that the Open Document Format (ODF) becomes the standard for all government documents. The letter called on all departments to take action towards implementing this standard.
It further gave timelines for the implementation up to March 2009.
The scanned copy attached here is a copy received by the DG of the Western Cape Government on 4 January 2008 which was in turn actioned to their IT unit. This attachment shows evidence of the letter being distributed out to departments around the country.