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Original invitation to join the NZ Open Source email list
For those of you I haven't met, my name is Dave Lane and I am a proponent of open source software in New Zealand (for those you of who have met me, you probably already knew that). I am sending you this message because I would like to invite you join me and my associates (listed below) in creating a NZ open source lobby. The goal of the lobby is to make NZ an open source friendly place and a level playing field for all IT vendors (both open source and proprietary) on a legislative level. To do that we need to provide credible information to the right government decision makers and a convincing show of our numbers.
Two weeks ago, the NZ government released (see www.e-government.govt.nz) its plan for implementing "e-government" across all departments, making the Internet the prefered medium for disseminating information and interacting with the public. It will also be used for conducting business with government departments as per the UK e-Envoy initiative (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/19340.html with some references to the NZ Inland Revenue "Windows only" fiasco at bottom).
Although I have found no mention on the e-government site regarding vendors, there is some indication (see http://www.aardvark.co.nz/daily/2001/0427.shtml) that the world's dominant proprietary software, online transaction, and soon, with their acquisition of telecoms and ISPs worldwide, communications corporation is slated to take the lead role in the development. I believe that this would be disasterous to all of us for a number of reasons including reliability, cost, and security. The most insidious reason, however, is the likely inclusion of services that implement this corporation's proprietary standards (as it did in the UK), excluding anyone attempting to integrate software with, or even access as an end-user, the e-government system with any software it has not blessed.
For an e-government infrastructure to serve its constituency, namely us, it must be built on open standards and be totally vendor neutral, i.e. not beholden to a single vendor's products. The e-government strategy document seems to support this argument (see http://www.e-government.govt.nz/programme/egovt-strategy.html) when it states:
"Information and services will be integrated, packaged and presented to minimise cost for both customers and departmental administration."
and (under "Supporting Activities"):
"Develop common data protocols, infrastructure and system standards which will enable information and data to be shared and integrated horizontally and vertically across agencies, reducing the multiple collection and processing of the same data."

"Investigate impediments to information and service integration (legal, administrative, social, personal) and develop strategies to remove or overcome them."

"Identify whether, how, and where government's back office information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure can be rationalised and integrated to support cost-effective, integrated service delivery. "

These priorities, stated in their own document, appear to me to support open standards, and perhaps even the use of open source software (for its cost effectiveness and minimal barriers for multi-vendor integration). At the moment, it appears that the UK government has been swayed by these arguments put forward by "rigorously vendor neutral" open source proponents (see http://www.netproject.com) and has changed position (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/19659.html). It also provides us with a compelling and encouraging example!
I have created a mailing list, opensourcenz@egressive.co.nz, whose purpose is the following, based on your input:
  1. Solidify our common position on rigorously vendor neutral standards (communication, data, etc.) for the implementation of e-government.
  2. Determine our timeline.
  3. Compile a list of expertise we, within our group, can offer to assist the government in its planning.
  4. Compile a list of constructive suggestions regarding the advantages of open standards with examples from open source software (as implemented in other parts of the world) to legislators which help to advance our position.
  5. Identify the people in government to whom we should address our concerns, especially in the State Services Commission.
  6. Present a document with concrete examples intended to demonstrate why open standards, and in many cases, open source software provides the most reliable, integrated, secure, and cost-effective solution for e-government. It is, after all, what powers the Internet.
  7. Present a document which requests the development of a process for auditing the e-government design to insure that no incompatibilities or proprietary standards are introduced.
  8. Create a web-portal which provides a knowledge repository focusing on open standards, open source software and news related to those topics. I propose that the site be www.openz.org, and Egressive (my company) will host the site and provide the domain name. There will be room (as soon as possible) for all open source friendly businesses to maintain a link and contact information!
To join the mailing list, you need only send an empty email to opensourcenz-subscribe@egressive.co.nz [ed. note: this list is now defunct - please use opensource-subscribe@openz.org instead] - messages to the group (and please keep these brief and to the point) can be sent to opensourcenz@egressive.co.nz [similiarly, this is now opensource@openz.org]. All messages are archived.
Let's keep NZ vendor neutral, open source friendly, and nuclear free!
Regards,
Dave Lane
Director, Egressive
Original supporters of the opensourcenz mailing list:
  1. Christine Moore - wordengineering Ltd. (Chch)
  2. Richard Waid - iOpen Technologies Ltd. (Chch)
  3. Brian Chatterton - iOpen Technologies Ltd. (Chch)
  4. Julian Carver - Seradigm Ltd. (Chch)
  5. Phil Driver - Technology Link Ltd. (Chch)
  6. Luke Pickering - Computer Consultant (Chch)
  7. Hayden Glass - Consultant/Journeyman (Auck/Wtgn)
  8. James Harrison - Partners in Performance (Chch)
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