A Motion, a Bill, and a Policy

Just in case anyone missed the recent news: There are three new cases of policy movement for openization: Denmark, Minnesota and Norway.

Morten Helveg has presented a motion in Parliament (Danish version, dated 30 March, 2006). It says:

Parliament imposes on the government a duty to ensure that the public sector’s use of IT, including use of software, is based on open standards.

The state should adopt and maintain a set of open standards by 1 January 2008 which can serve as an inspiration for the rest of the public sector. Open standards should be part of public IT and software procurement with the object of promoting competition.

The state should ensure that all digital information and data that the public sector exchanges with citizens, companies and institutions, are available in open standards based formats.(my translation of B103

The wording is the same as in his consultation draft, but the remarks have been updated.

The likelyhood of the motion being passed as a parliamentary decision is unclear. Coming from the minority opposition, it is almost by definition at risk of being turned down by the Government and its support-party, Dansk Folkeparti, which however seems split on this issue (one of their MPs has supported the motion, another rejected it).

State of Minnesota
The Minnesota Open Data Formats Bill, House File 3971 has been presented to the Minnesota state legislature by Paul Thissen and Steve Simon from DFL, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is in opposition in the state.

The bill would require all Executive branch agencies in the state of Minnesota to “use open standards in situations where the other requirements of a project do not make it technically impossible to do this.”

Andy Updegrove: Bill Introduced in Minnesota to Require Use of “Open Data Formats”

Gary Edwards (at Sam Hisers) and Jeff Kaplan

TechWeb: Minnesota Bill Supports Open Standards

Press release from the Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration and Reform (in Norwegian): Regjeringen satser på åpne IT-standarder

The press release mentions a cabinet decision about open standards, which contains at least two initiatives. First, Norway will create an interoperability framework, or a standards catalogue, which most likely will contain mandatory standards for state agenices. Second, the government will establish an standardization council with several stakeholders.

Well done, Norway!

Essentially, the Norwegian government seems to continue the path towards openization that the former government started about a year ago. The eNorge (eNorway) programme is one of the most ambitious e-government programmes I know of, and it’s good to see it back on track. I’m of course somewhat prejudiced, since one of the major proposals in eNorge is the adoption of an interoperability framework explicitely based on the Danish interoperability framework (disclaimer: I was responsible for establishing this).

Just in case anyone in Norway reads this: Yes, I’d be happy to work with you, if you need assistance 🙂


In English:
MIT Technology Review: Norway Promoting Open-Source Software
TMCNet: Norway seeks to reduce dependence on Microsoft, others through open-source programs
Jeff Kaplan: Norway Out in the Open

In Norwegian:
Dagens IT: Vil løsne båndene til Microsoft
Computerworld.no: Skal bli mindre Microsoft-avhengig
Digi.no: Vil bli mindre avhengig av Microsoft

The Meaning of Life
I have been invited to speak at a Unisys-conference, The Journey to Open Source, held 17 May – 19 May in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. The title of my talk is, as suggested by Unisys, The Meaning of Life – An Academic View on Openization. I’m digging through various research databases and journals in the hope of finding academic literature about openization (open standards, open source, SOA), but it is a rather disappointing exercise. I did similar digging about a year ago, and had hoped to find a bulk of new publications, but unfortunately haven’t found much new material.

One of the most interesting research projects I know of, is the OStEA project at Copenhagen Business School. OStEA (Open Standards and their Early Adoption) is a public university research project sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The aim of the project is to identify issues related to government policy with regard to open standards. Some of the research questions pursued are:

  • The viable/plausible scope of open standards as pertaining to the government ICT policy.
  • Identification of relevant standards pool and the relevant ongoing standardization in various fora.
  • Identification of perceived needs for open standards and the reasons and opportunities in government adopting an open standards governance policy.
  • Government’s participation in standardization.
  • Conformance to standards in public procurement/ discrimination against non-compliant standards.

The project commenced on 1st of February, 2006 and will end on June 24, 2006. Mogens Kühn Pedersen and Vladislav V. Fomin, the research team, have made a preliminary report, Open Standards and Government Policy.

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