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Subject: RE: [egov-ms] Groups - OPEN STANDARDS

I have sympathy with Tony's view on this.  

In ISO at least there is a process to apply for a standard to be free. I proposed that for the Identity Management framework standards in CD, namely 24760 A Framework for Identity Management and 29100 Privacy Framework.  But there was insufficient time to discuss it at the last ISO SC27 meeting in November. 

Part of the justification I used was that, given the small size of our country, the national Body would only sell a small number of copies anyway, and their cause would be better served by supporting the free distribution of the Framework standards, to get folks interested and motivated enough to buy the standards that sit underneath and are frequently referenced by the framework standards. My own National Body offered no view on the matter but there was clear and obvious support from those on the email circulation lists.

I get the sense that the issue is kind of resolving itself.  Industry consortiums tend to concentrate on developing and publishing detailed specifications (the meat of the standards) that their members rightly demand in order to make things happen.  This may have an increasing effect of repositioning/displacing the big SSOs into high level standards that, while useful, are not business critical, thereby reducing overall demand/revenue, and reinforcing the sense that the pay-for model is breaking/is broken.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Borras [mailto:John@pensive.eu] 
Sent: Wednesday, 16 December 2009 3:58 a.m.
To: trutkowski@netmagic.com
Cc: egov-ms@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [egov-ms] Groups - OPEN STANDARDS


Thanks for the compliment and I hope the FLOSS material can be of use to you. 

As you know the remit of the eGOV Member Section is very much around "Promoting Open Standards for Citizen-Centric Government"; however as you will also appreciate there is an ever-ongoing debate about what Open means.  You only have to follow the continuing discussion around the European Interoperability Framework and the definition in that to realise that it is likely there will never be total agreement on this.  Sure in an ideal world all standards would be available free of charge and without any royalty charges etc.  But IMO that is never likely to happen, and in my experience, after nearly 40 years in UK Government, Governments will not hold out for that.  In fact governments do enlist SSOs to create standards for them knowing that there will be a charge for them. That of course makes life difficult for vendors, particularly SMEs, who have to buy and implement these standards to comply with government procurement requests.  

I'm not sure what we in the Member Section can do to change this situation.  We could come up with our own definition of Open and produce guidance on how that definition should be applied, but how many governments would change their current practices in the light of that.  Clearly if there's a choice between an open standard that is free and one that is going to cost you then we could advocate the former, assuming all other aspects of the standards process were equal, eg open process, public review, etc.

These are of course my personal opinions and not those of the MS Steering Committee.  It would be good to hear from other members on this point and maybe through that discussion we can identify something practical the MS can do.

Thanks for raising the issue.  It's good to have this sort of debate within  the MS.


From: Tony Rutkowski [trutkowski@netmagic.com]
Sent: 15 December 2009 12:38
To: John Borras
Cc: egov-ms@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: Re: [egov-ms] Groups - FLOSS Webinar slides (FLOSS Webinar.pdf) uploaded

Dear John
> The slides used by Charles Schulz and John Borras in their recent webinar
> on FLOSS (Free, Libre and Open Source Software).
> View Document Details:
> http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/document.php?document_id=35591
> Download Document:
> http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/35591/FLOSS%20Webinar.pdf

This is great material.  Has the egov effort also considered
focussing on open standards?  There are still many governments
that make reference to (or even specify) standards that are not
publicly available.  The situation is particularly acute in the U.S.
As we know, most standards bodies over the past two decades
have shifted to publicly available standards where developers
developers can "click and download" any version.

Unfortunately, by the way, one of the model documents you
cite in your slides in this presentation is ironically not publicly
available.  ISO/IEC 26300:2006 costs CHF 325 to view!

Governments need to demonstrate leadership here.  Citing
standards that cost hundreds of dollars to view is not a good
policy direction as such standards are simply unlikely to be
used in today's IT world.  Government by emphatically refusing
to cite such standards (and certainly not using them) would
quickly change the practices of the shrinking number of
troglodyte standards bodies still engaging in these practices.

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