To ensure growth of a nation's digital economy, government information technology policy must foster innovation and openness. But good technology is not enough. Government policy must also promote an economic framework that enables good business practices.
National Linux distributions have special responsibilities. They should encourage a nation's open source activities as broadly as possible rather than present an isolated solution based on inevitably limited resources.
OSS can break the cycle of red-tape and budget limitations hindering the effectiveness of government information services.
Governments should utilize Information Technology (IT) procurement policy to help achieve transparency, competition, measurement and efficiency in the purchasing process. A policy which incorporates open source as a choice for solutions complements the role of standards. Open source and open standards together can help strengthen a framework for procuring and delivering solutions to meet the needs of government.
OSS and proprietary software are different sorts of animals. Evolution favors collaborators in OSS while preferring winners-take-all within proprietary species.
The philosophy and practice of collaboration in open source software forms a win-win model for developers, vendors and users alike. Fundamental economic drivers are changing the nature of competition in the software industry. The competitive landscape is transforming from a few high peaks where monopoly product vendors dominate the market to a more varied terrain of participants collaborating on basic technologies and tools while competing on value-added services.
By implementing fair ICT procurement practices informed by a government policy that promotes the larger economic welfare and social benefits, we can begin to rephrase “may the best product win” into “may the most beneficial product win”.
Governments are choosing Open Source Software (OSS) to encourage competition while keeping costs low and quality high - so let’s examine what OSS is all about.
Price competition and multi-cultural flexibility introduced by OSS reinforces the need for companies such as Microsoft to be better team players to earn the respect and support of their customers.
To build an open knowledge-based economy, the right problems must be recognized, supportive processes must be encouraged, and strong policies must be enacted.