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Subject: Re: [egov-bestpractice] OASIS E-GOV TC : BEST PRACTICE SC CHARTER

Two points about the proposed charter.

1. The draft points to this passage in the TC charter:

      To provide a mechanism for the creation of best practice
      documents relative to the adoption of OASIS
      specifications/standards and other related standards within
      Governments internationally

   And it further proposes the following language:

      The Best Practice must be directly related to Government
      business or beneficial to Government aims and objectives.
      Only best practice based on established/published
      specifications or standards will be considered.

   It seems ironic, therefore, that we should begin by circulating
   the draft in a proprietary, undocumented, non-OASIS format
   (Microsoft Word).  At the meeting in Baltimore, we resolved to
   use only OASIS document formats for this work.  The appropriate
   format here would be sxi, the nonproprietary format supported
   by free open-source tools and maintained by the OASIS Open
   Office XML Format TC:


   The OpenOffice product suite can be downloaded free from


   The software runs on Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating
   systems, and a beta release is available for Macintosh OS X.
   Some 25 different localizations are available that include most
   of the world's major languages.

   I personally prefer plain text for committee business and see
   no reason why we should be using anything else, but if members
   insist on using more complex formats to convey simple prose, I
   think they should employ the OASIS formats we agreed to use in

2. Item 4 of the draft charter says:

      The Best Practice will be delivered in the form of annotated
      case studies. Each would identify what specifics make it
      good practice, and also the learning points ie what would be
      done differently next time.  It is not the intention to
      dictate solutions but to provide sufficient evidence so that
      people can draw their own conclusions as to what is
      appropriate to their circumstances.

   I have nothing against case studies per se, but it seems to me
   that at least one of the best practices I consider to be
   essential for governments -- the use, wherever possible, of
   open-source software -- is best addressed as an issue of public
   policy, not as something that should be urged through case
   studies.  This issue, at least, can and should be addressed
   simply through a statement of the reasons that governments
   should, wherever possible, avoid the use of proprietary
   software, beginning with the security reasons.


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