[LINK] Open source and coopetition for in-house software development
Thu, 29 Nov 2001 17:30:17 +1030
> I have a developing opinion on this, but I would be interested in
> feedback on this from link.
The major problem is that a lot of government business process
is detailed in software. As once small example, the ATO probably
has a program that throws up tax returns that need investigation.
It's not at all in the public interest to know to the cent what
practices will lead to a visit from a tax auditor.
> just who is the ATO for example supposed to be competing with?
The ATO isn't competing with software houses. That's to
presume that the ATO write software for its own sake,
as a software company like Microsoft of Red Hat does.
The ATO competes with tax avoiders. Releasing the software
simply gives those seeking to avoid paying tax an advantage.
To generalise, governement software tends to be large applications
that implement business functions. By releasing the software
you give the competitor of that business function an advantage.
As most government departments have a regulatory role, then
by definition giving that competitor an advantage is not
The government does write some reusable software of utility
to particular applications. Generally these grow into
international projects, with departments in the same field
cooperatively developing the software. In this case there's
usually a small fee that covers the cost of paying the
development personnel. This prevents problems of the US
taxpayer underwriting Australian taxpayers, something that
is often legislatively prohibited.
It's my experience that after some sucess these projects
are often spun-off into private companies. That isn't
as silly as it sounds -- it's hard to justify a government
employee employed full time to staff a help desk for a
program that models air turbulence. It's at this point
where some argument about open source could be made.
The other major problem is that security of access to terminals
is poor and allowing people to have their own copies of the software
allows them to practice the user interface of that software.
Want to get a pension? Well practice the "new pension" part
of the user interface and hang about the Centerlink office.
Someone goes to the file room and 10 seconds later you've
typed in your rehearsed keystrokes.
Glen Turner Network Engineer
(08) 8303 3936 Australian Academic and Research Network
The revolution will not be televised, it will be digitised