ACT calls for government open source adoption

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The ACT Party has called for the NZ Government to adopt open source software, citing, among other things, the UK's transition away from Microsoft products to open source alternatives.

While the NZOSS is gratified to see Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) being advocated by the ACT Party (and the Greens have similarly advocated it for at least the past decade) we think that FOSS sells itself if the playing field is level. At present it is not. The UK's transition has been made possible by its mandatory adoption of open standards. Without that change, adopting FOSS is blocked by the fact that corporate software suppliers control the documents everyone produces, and they can unilaterally change those proprietary formats to ensure that the FOSS alternatives are never quite fully compatible as has been the case for the past 20 years.

We would love to see the NZ government make good on the goals of the D5 Charter, to which we have formally been signed up (thanks Minister Dunne), which among other admirable things include: adoption of open standards, and broader use of open source software. We advocate that the NZ government formally mandate the use of open standards, because upon doing so, government software procurement will be on a level playing field, and at that point we are confident that FOSS will increasingly be the best choice on all criteria.