Open Source for the Government [presentation]

A month ago I gave a talk at OpenFest (a Bulgarian conference for open technologies). The talk was in Bulgarian, but I’ve translated the slides, so here they are.

Currently, many governments order custom software and companies implement it, but it’s usually of low quality, low applicability, or both. Software is often abandoned. And we don’t even know what bugs and holes are lurking in (I found a security hole in the former egov.bg portal that allowed me to extract all documents in the system, containing personal data and whatnot). And it’s all because it’s a black box.

In short, I propose to have all software ordered by our governments, open-source. I’m obviously not the first to have that idea (there are success stories in some countries, as you’ll see on the slides), but I think the idea is worth pursuing not only in my country, but in many other countries where the government still orders companies to build closed source software.

The process is simple – the company that builds the software (or makes a customization of an existing open-source software) works in a public SCM repo (git or mercurial) that everyone can trace. That way we can not only monitor the development process, but also have a more transparent view on public spending for software.

Here in Bulgaria the idea has already been embraced by some government representatives and is likely to gain traction in the next few years.

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