-By Grant Gross -
The sponsors of an international Open Source in government conference scheduled for October 17 and18 in Washington, D.C., are calling for presentations from a wide variety of experts on Open Source software.
Organizers of Open Source: A Case for e-Government are hoping to draw speakers -- and about 400 listeners -- from the United States and many other countries, says Tony Stanco, senior policy analyst at the Cyberspace Policy Institute at The George Washington University, one of the sponsors of the conference. Other sponsors are the Information for Development Program at the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, Government Online International Network and the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Intergovernmental Solutions.
Stanco says the focus is on getting more government agencies to use Open Source software, in both "developed and developing" nations.
Stanco says organizers are looking for speakers who have mature projects that governments may like to use and for anyone inside or outside of government with an interesting story to tell on how Open Source is being used in government. At least one person has been asked to speak after organizers saw him talking about Open Source and government on NewsForge.
"The main goal is to get people (inside government and outside
government) who are interested in getting Open Source into government all in the
same room, so critical mass is produced to move forward," Stanco says. "It has recently dawned on people responsible for e-government that what they are proposing is going to cost billions of dollars and fundamentally requires interoperability. Once they see that, they realize that:
" 1. they don't know where the money is going to come from and
"2. that by nature proprietary solutions want to exclude long-term interoperability."
Proposals from traditional vendors often don't achieve the goals of government projects, Stanco says, so many e-government projects are stalled.
"So e-government officials are looking to Open Source to get them out of
a bind," he adds. "Open Source is by nature interoperable and avoids vendor
lock-ins. Also, Open Source can be many times more cost effective. So,
governments everywhere, including the U.S., are looking to Open Source to see how
it will help them implement e-government. The purpose of the conference is
to help show them the way."
The deadline for conference speaker proposals is August 19. The call for speakers and papers page is here.