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MT: Government Starts Public Consultation to Increase Use of Open Source
Source: epractice.eu
Source Date: Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Malta
Created: Nov 11, 2010

The Government of Malta has decided to define an open source Information Technology (IT) policy intended to accelerate the introduction of this type of software in public administrations. Within this scope, Malta's governmental Information Technology Agency (MITA) launched on 22 October 2010 a public consultation on open source. Feedback on the consultation can be submitted until 1 December 2010.

The MITA made available its consultation document 'Open source vision - Nurturing the proliferation of Open Source Software' at the 22nd National Information Society Advisory Council Meeting that took place in the city of Valletta.

In the document, MITA declares that it hopes that the consultation will result in a set of principles that will speed up the uptake of open source in Malta's public institutions. The agency is also looking for ways to innovate procurement of IT, basing the latter on openness and reusability.

The IT policy should also lead to the emergence of an open source IT sector. According to MITA a viable group of open source IT service providers is a "critical success factor" for Malta to succeed in increasing this type of software. "Self sustaining open source communities seldom emerge spontaneously. They require proactive effort to form and incubate. It is believed that as such, the local educational system can act as a major champion for nurturing concepts of openness in its wider sense, both from a citizen as well as a business standpoint." 

Godwin Caruana, MITA's Chief Technology Officer (CTO), explained in the Times of Malta newspaper that open source will be considered wherever it is cost-effective, and without disrupting business processes. "The approach is to ensure that we identify the prospective areas as we go along."

MITA and other governmental institutions are already using open source to offer critical back office services. On the desktop, this type of software is less visible. "Challenges from a client desktop perspective are perhaps more amplified. MITA will strive to identify respective opportunity areas while ensuring the necessary degree of continuity and non-intrusiveness", Caruana told the Times of Malta.

The government of Malta published on 10 August 2010 an updated version of its open source software directive. The directive instructs Malta's public administrations to consider open source solutions in IT projects. The directive is also intended to increase re-use of procured software, by making such software available as open source, using the European Union Public Licence (EUPL).

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