Open Source in Government

I love open source and use it as much as I can at home, and try to contribute. Maturity levels of these open source products getting to a point that government agencies are now considering to revise their policies to use them more. Recently Australian Taxation Office published a revised policy on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Of course there is an endorsement and approval process behind it as usual but it is good that open source is getting some recognition from the large government organisations.

As a developer I use things like NUnit, Rhino Mocks, NHibernate, Subversion etc for my home projects as supportive enablers so that I can speed up the development process and have some process improvement overall. I also installed Linux for my old laptop used by my wife (she doesn’t like it though). Open Source is good for me because of the cost benefits and I have no actual commercial benefits out of my home projects anyway.  It is also good when I see my articles referenced. For example my article about the Cruise Control installation linked from Wikipedia.

On another angle; I wonder how things like GnuCash; a free accounting software can get endorsement from government bodies to be used by people who don’t want to spend money on MYOB or Quicken. This sort of endorsement requires a bit more research and resources and converting the GnuCash based on Australian laws and tax legislations (also updating it when the legislations change). Maybe a group of volunteers can do this in the sense of open source and get approval. Luckily there is a software distributed to keep records called e-Record which does the same sort of job as GnuCash.

As a conclusion, I think we will see more open source software used by government agencies in the future as the OS project’s maturity and support level increases.I’d love to use some of the above applications at my day job which pays bills.

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