4th Nov 2019 at 8:08 am #1991
We need to have a discussion about where it will be focussed ie. SA Government (like in the past when it was OSSUGSA) or FOSS in general in South Africa which covers industry itself, and public use.
It’s important as it determines the stakeholders and involvement, and roles that government entities may or may not play.
4th Nov 2019 at 10:18 am #1992
From old site this was the purpose of the FPO (FOSS Programme Office at SITA?):
FPO was established in September 2007, after the Cabinet’s approval of the FOSS Strategy in March 2007. Its vision and mission is to ensure implementation of FOSS in government and that migration to FOSS takes place.
Vision and Mission
To achieve its vision and mission the FPO will address five key executables:
Coordinate all the FOSS work in government
Create FOSS skills
Ensure that government procurement is FOSS compliant
Ensure that Minimum Interoperability Standards and Minimum Information Security Standards are FOSS compliant
Partner all FOSS migrations of government departments starting with SITA’s own FOSS Migration.
The FPO also aims to:
Escalate FOSS skills development
Roll out the Open Document Format throughout government
Increase the rate at which government entities migrate to FOSS, starting with government department, extending to other agencies.
Perform FOSS advocacy
5th Nov 2019 at 7:29 am #2010Thembelani MaphangaMember
In a Govtech conference in 2012 SITA was asked to drive Foss again but by 2014 they had failed to out together a program and implementation plan .. We may not get much from them in the short term but maybe through developing content, products and services and we can then force them to reconsider Foss
5th Nov 2019 at 7:50 am #2018
Yes it’s certainly a debate that must be had. FOSS was never officially stopped at SITA. It started with a formal tasking via DPSA following from Cabinet’s FOSS POlicy.
It appears national government’s focus drifted in late 2000’s and so did SITA’s resulting in Arno Webb (FOSS Programme Office) contract not being renewed and those resources then just moving elsewhere.
The split away from DPSA for SITA has added complexity as it now falls under another Ministry. There has been a strong focus on MIOS interoperability to try to ensure interoperability between whatever is used.
What has happened within SITA is much the same as within Departments and we are also similar in that we have some technical resources that are still very pro-FOSS and get on with their own projects, but it does not mean that is what the organisation is also preaching.
I’d actually suggest we split that off into a separate topic of discussion as to how to go about it? A topic about re-establishing FOSS itself as determined by the FOSS Policy for government and who needs to be the leading players.
This topic was going to look at what scope and purpose this forum should cover (Government related or broader South Africa), and from that determine who should be stakeholders, what types of stakeholders would there be, etc. More the constitution and purpose of our gathering as it decides who must participate and what needs to be achieved.
5th Nov 2019 at 8:05 am #2021
Our website refers everywhere to “in South Africa” which is different from “in South African Government”. It’s the first key thing we must decide on: Are we focussing on government institutions or the whole country? If the whole country is changes government’s role slightly and means must also bring in public representatives, and make sure we are not treading on the toes of other SA wide FOSS groups.
5th Nov 2019 at 10:50 am #2026Mbombo MalekaMember
Its without doubt that the current initiative is not government-led but a coalition of advocacy work across all sectors including government.
In my opinion, the common purpose is to want to foster localisation and innovation of technologies so that our people in general and including government do not become merely consumers of technology amidst the 4IR.
Dr Andile Ngcaba (Chair-designate Dimansion Data) has been advocating fiercely for FOSS in the 4IR and perhaps at some stage we need people of his stature to support our initiative.
5th Nov 2019 at 7:48 pm #2088Simtandile DlepumaMember
I think the scope of this forum should span beyond government. We need to have conversation with the overall industry players. We need to build a strong FOSS platform in this country. As a result we need to identify all the key stakeholders that can play a crucial role in this strategy. We need private sector to support the strategy, provide skills, and training. We need government to support the strategy. We therefore need to foster public private partnership towards the achievement of FOSS for the country. We therefore need to invite private companies to use OSS to compete with proprietary software.
We need to be aware that proprietary software vendors played a big role in fighting against OSS. We need Private sector to fight with us against the proprietary. For me that is how I think we can win this battle.
5th Nov 2019 at 8:32 pm #2089
Yes Simtandile, fully agree with that. When I meant government I was thinking more from the perspective of government being the one’s to engage with academia and industry here to also generate demand for OSS services and support, to promote the use of open standards, ensure open standards for tenders so that OSS has an equal opportunity, etc. We’d also seek inputs from public and others but our realm of control is more government.
I’m pretty sure much of what we’d do and standards and policy we’d recommend for government is equally applicable to citizens and industry too. But apart from vendors wanting to provide OSS services to government, do we broaden our scope much wider than that and include other sectors of society and industry completely unrelated to government services? If so we’d need to think a lot broader in terms of representation at meetings?
We’d certainly want what we’re doing to rub off much broader across the country. I’m just thinking of representation though and where and what we intend to focus on. Government has been a tough nut to crack already, so do we focus on eating an arm and a leg, or go for the whole elephant 😉
9th Nov 2019 at 12:44 pm #2240Aslam RaffeeMember
One point to consider is that the technology choices made by government has an impact on society. When SARS built their e-filing on flash and adobe OSS users could not access these services. When the department of Education selected delphi for IT schools could not implement OSS IT labs. When the IEC website was for IE only voters who used OSS could not use their website. The point the OSS working group often made was that government as the biggest consumer of technology in the country has a huge impact on the industry and if OSS is used by government society will benefit from having more options. For example we said if government used openoffice/libreoffice there would be more support and a bigger uptake of libreoffice
9th Nov 2019 at 3:28 pm #2302
And true also for tenders published by government: If they published in ODF format and required responses in ODF, that already makes a big impact on the industry too.
Actually I don’t know how government gets away with not enforcing ODF for all tender documents.
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