Open-source software moves into public sector
Sunday, April 26, 2009
By Justin Mason (Contact)
Gazette Reporter http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2009/a ... pensource/
Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, the OFT’s director and New York’s chief information officer, said the study’s findings show a wholesale shift in the state’s approach toward open-source software.
She said the new direction should take the state closer to broader acceptance of open-source programs.
“The public sector is lagging a little bit behind,” she said. “But that is our strategic direction and that is our priority.”
Some areas of state government are already beginning to use open-source software as a method to create open government. Earlier this year, the state Senate under Majority Leader Malcolm Smith hired Andrew Hoppin — a self-professed open-source aficionado and former volunteer with the Obama administration’s transition team — as the Senate’s first-ever chief information officer.
Hoppin said he plans to implement a number of widely used open-source programs to improve the transparency and efficiency of the Senate’s online functions. He said the malleability of open-source programs lends itself perfectly to his goal of transforming the Senate’s proprietary software-driven Web site into something that better serves both politicians and citizens alike.
“Open-source by its nature really puts us in the driver’s seat,” he said. “We save a lot of money and we can be taking advantage of the innovations that are being made within the [open-source] community.”
Soon, the Senate’s Web site will be powered by a package of open-source content management software that will allow broader public participation in the legislative process. The new site will feature everything from constituent input on bills to blogs for individual senators.
“For the first time, every senator will have a standard level of Web access with an ability to transmit Web content across the board,” he said.
Hoppin said such innovation wasn’t possible under the archaic proprietary software the Senate previously used. He’s now reviewing all of the licensed software used by the Senate to ensure that there’s a reason for not taking advantage of an open-source option.
“We’re doing a complete review of all of our internal applications to make sure that when we are using proprietary software, there is a compelling reason to do so,” he said.
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