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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Open Source, Open CTO, Open Government

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, January 29, 2009
11:52 am

Last week, BBC News reported that Scott McNealy, Chairman of Sun Microsystems, has been asked to prepare a paper for the new administration on the subject of how open source software can benefit government.   Commenting on this subject, Scott said:

“It’s intuitively obvious open source is more cost effective and productive than proprietary software. Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle or any proprietary vendor any money.”

It will be interesting to read Scott’s paper when it become available.  I would be delighted to find that our government would adopt practices that actually saved our precious tax money.

I also applaud Scott’s comments about a suggested new cabinet-level post of Chief Technology Officer.  He said that new CTO should:

“Have veto power, the right to eliminate any hardware, software or networking product that touches the federal network. He or she would have real power, real oversight and employ real consequences for folk that don’t realign with the architecture. It’s what every business does that the government doesn’t.”

If such a CTO were appointed to lead the implementation of President Obama’s “open” technology policy, we could call him or her the “Open CTO.”

We at Sun often talk about how leading companies use information technology as a strategic weapon to gain competitive advantage.  President Obama certainly demonstrated the effectiveness of web technology as a competive weapon in his campaign. 

I think we should consider information technology to be a weapon for the American people to improve government.  It can help slash through the impermeable curtains of back-room dealmaking and obfuscating “spin” wherein political insiders try to deceive the public as they push their own agendas.   For example, having access on the web to emerging details of the “stimulus package” enabled each of us to evaluate its worth on its actual merits, rather than having selected information sifted through levels of political commentary before it reached us.

Information technology can make government more accessible, transparent and responsive for us citizens whom the government is supposed to serve.  Open source and and “Open CTO” could be two effective arrows in our arsenal to return the power government to the hands of the people.

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2 Responses to “Open Source, Open CTO, Open Government”

    You would expect your government to have the latest technology – technology that is better than what your average consumer can have. The government can still protect and be on top of gadgets and things that make for smarter business.

    Comment by Rob on February 1, 2009 at 9:31 am

    This is fantastic. Here’s to open government and the open web! I believe OpenID will continue to be the most convenient and trustworthy open identity standard on the Web. Open standards create a better Internet for everyone, and the U.S. government’s adoption of OpenID is a huge endorsement of OpenID and a big step forward for open standards.

    Comment by SEO on November 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

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