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Open Letter: Response from Rt. Hon. Trevor Mallard, Minister of State Services
Dear Mr Lane
Re: Open Standards and Open Source Software
Thank you for your letter to me, and my colleagues, the Minister of Information Technology, the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, and the Minister of Economic Development sent on 30 November 2001. This letter responds on behalf of us all.
As I see it, your letter raises two main issues. First you raise the role of government in stimulating industry development through its procurement policies. Regarding this I make the following points.
  • In terms of developing and/or procuring IT systems or software, government agencies are currently free to adopt open cousrce software solutions, i.e there is no restriction on the use of open source software. Also, there is no policy in favour of the purchase of proprietary software.
  • The overriding principle of 'value for money' must be adhered to by government agencies when making procurement relating to the procurement of IT systems. This principle must be applied equally when considering proprietary and and open source software options. In other words, government agencies must meet their business requirements in the most cost-effective way.
Second, as you rightly point out, the issue of interoperability is important to achieving the government's e-government goals. You may be aware that interoperability is a key component of the E-government Strategy. To achieve interoperability between government agencies, the E-government Unit of the State Services Commision has been developing the New Zealand E-government Interoperability Framework (NZ eGIF). This has involved input from a range of public and private sector organisations and has not revealed the need for any shift in relevant government policy with regard to open source software. This framework will be opened to public consultation in late February or March 2002.
I have asked my officials in the E-government Unit to keep me advised of developments in the open source software area.
Yours sincerely,
Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister of State Services
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