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Government Promotes Openness and Freedom of Choice in Technology

Publication Date: Oct 22, 2010

Openness and Freedom of Choice in Technology
Blata l-Bajda, Malta – [ 22/10/2010 ]: Earlier today, Government announced its position with respect to Open Standards and Open Source Software (OSS). The Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) also presented an Open Source Vision white paper which has the aim of nurturing the proliferation of open source software.
 Opening the 22nd National Information Society Advisory Council (NISCO) meeting held today at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta Hon Dr Austin Gatt, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications (MITC) said that Government was confidently able to take a more constructive stance towards OSS since the market has now reached acceptable levels of maturity.
Minister Gatt said that the thrust of the European Commission to open up the public procurement market and to break the vendor lock-in of proprietary software is significant. The 10-year Digital Agenda launched earlier this year by the European Commission promotes open and interoperable products and services, as well as urges for more and better open standards recognised and created in Europe. Minister Gatt stressed that Government has a responsibility to use taxpayers’ money in the best way possible.
Earlier this year, MITA published policies and directives aimed at guiding ministries and other entities specifically on the adoption of Open Standards and the facilitation of non-intrusive adoption of OSS within Government. Minister Gatt clarified that the adoption of Open Standards is mandated across Government whereas open source software must be considered properly on a level playing field with proprietary software.
MITA’s Chairman, Mr Claudio Grech, talked about the reasons why Government complies with open Standards and, if it’s the best solution, procure OSS. “When we procure ICT solutions for Government, we do so with a strategic vision and with long-term planning so we go for the best value for money. It is crucial that where possible and where the business needs are similar, we are able to share and re-use these ICT solutions across the public sector” said Mr Grech. As a major ICT buyer in the local market, Government cannot afford to have disjointed solutions which require major investment to ensure interoperability later on. “It is essential to reduce costs and risks, avoid paying twice and secure the highest returns on investment” added Mr Grech.
Mr Grech emphasised that the publishing of the directive and policy on Open Standards and the vision paper on OSS are just the beginning. In the past years MITA has been actively monitoring the OSS landscape and as a result, a quarter of Government ICT solutions are based on Open Source software. “We must work harder to facilitate a smooth transition towards the principles of openness as well as minimise risks and keep a good check on the total cost of ownership. It will be important to educate on openness principles within the Government and the wider economy” said Mr Grech.
Mr Grech anticipated that more will be heard on Cloud Computing in the future. Over the coming years, more Governments will start considering the transition towards a cloud computing model to enable agile, on demand and self service provisioning of computing resources to Government departments to reduce costs and maximise ICT resources and utilisation.
Later, during NISCO Ms Bianca Granetto, Research Director at Gartner spoke about the uptake of OSS within various sectors. She said that from a recent study which Gartner carried out it was discovered that 79% of non-ICT companies are in one way or another using OSS within their production. Presentations were also given by MITA on Open Standards and OSS.
Industry players as well as the public are invited to provide feedback on the white paper on Open Source Software by 30th November 2010 at