A FLOSS Policy For New Zealand

In previous posts we have looked at FLOSS policies of overseas governments, progress in uptake of FLOSS in Malaysia and also started a discussion about making Wellington the open source capital of New Zealand.

This article links to more work that has been carried out under the auspices of the Public Sector Remix. A working group was set up to explore what a FLOSS friendly policy might look like for New Zealand. As with everything else to do with the project, the development of the policy is in no way an indication that any of the participating agencies would adopt or support the policy. The outcome is simply to provide information that helps agencies in their decision making processes.

This is a concise document that represents a positive shift away from monopolistic, restricting hegemonies. The focus is on improving services, lifting productivity and managing costs. It fits with many stated Government goals, including enhancing New Zealand business participation providing services to Government.

    "The aim of this draft policy is to stimulate discussion on how best to align government software procurement practices with these wider policy objectives. Free open source software doesn’t fit the Procrustean bed of current procurement policy and taxpayers are missing out on its social and economic benefits.
      Data and software are inter-dependent and need to be considered as part of a bigger whole. A strategy of re-use—of data and software—reduces procurement risk and drives common, joined-up solutions to the common needs of government. Local innovations can be shared, thereby delivering greater return on each dollar invested.
        The big emerging idea is that open data standards are not enough; we need open processes too. This means using free open source software to access, share and reuse our data."

      Section 3, "Principles" gives an overview of the framework that guided this policy development:

        "Competition Efficient competition is a prerequisite for an effective and varied software market. Free open source software can be maintained and developed by multiple vendors. Software vendors must be able to offer their services to the public sector on equal terms.
          Control and self-determination Adoption of free open source software ensures agency control over the software used. This allows the individual agency to determine when and how the software will be updated or developed, and whether the software should be re-distributed.
            Development and innovation When developing software, agencies must decide which software development model best supports innovation and fast development of new products and services. Software developed in the public sector should be made available to others under a free open source license.
              Maximum value for money Individual agencies must be able to acquire the best and cheapest software in the context of local administrative needs. The software must be chosen based on a consolidated business case that takes account of the total lifetime cost.
                Interoperability and flexibility Agencies should focus on software constructed of smaller software components which support communication with other software via open standards. This allows the various software components to be replaced independently, which promotes flexibility, reusability and competition.
                  Software reuse Adoption of free open source software can prevent taxpayers from having to pay for development and use of the same software more than once. Software for which the Crown holds the copyright is owned in common by every country where the Crown is head of state."

                  Please have a read of the full document and provide feedback either through the comments or, if logging on is a problem, on the NZOSS openchat mailing list.