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Software deal great news for Open Source cause

20 October 2005

Govt software deal great news for Open Source cause in NZ

The deal that has cleared the path for government agencies to adopt and expand their use of non-proprietary software is great news for the Open Source cause in New Zealand, Green Party IT Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

The Inland Revenue Department has signed an all-of-government license agreement with Novell that will give government agencies greater freedom in their choice of software and provide a framework for those that opt for Open Source.

"Clearly much will be made of the money that can be saved by moving away from inflexible licensing requirements, but, IMHO, the most important part of this deal is the opportunity for agencies to embrace the increased reliability, security and flexibility of Open Source," Mrs Turei says.

"In turn, the economy of scale and credibility provided by the Government choosing Open Source should go some way to increasing its use in New Zealand generally, which in turn will start to roll back the virus-vulnerable Microsoft monoculture on Kiwi desktops.

"Also, Government has a democratic duty to provide information to the public that is in an accessible and open format. With Open Source software, no multinational company can limit what can be accessed and what is done with information."

The State Services Commission has also welcomed the deal, saying it will allow "robust competition in the government software market". On that count, Mrs Turei is not so sure.

"'Robust' competition does not inevitably lead to the best outcome in an area such as this because multiple suppliers and standards often lead to wasteful duplication.

"The Government should select a range of preferred Open Source options, with some choice in each area, and then support 'Buy Kiwi Made' by having them maintained by New Zealand programmers. This would be great for Kiwi businesses while also providing flexibility and security for government agencies," Mrs Turei says.

(FYI, this release was prepared and distributed with proprietary products because the Parliamentary Service is yet to go Open Source.)


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