The Government Open Source Conference was held this week in Portland, Oregon. Bill Welty, the CIO of the State of California Air Resources Board, gave a talk on his agency’s experiences with open source. In addition to the common points that open source helps solve the budget crunch, attracts talented and motivated staff, and provides a path for long-term accesibility of data, two paragraphs particularly struck me:
Welty gave a rapid-fire look at the realities of open source in government. “The doors have been blown open in California,” he said. “In 2004 when Governor Schwarzenegger signed the California Performance Review a section called State Operations #10 specifically authorized the use of open source. It says: “Departments should take an inventory of software purchases and software renewals in the Fiscal Year 2004-2005 and implement open source alternatives where feasible.”
In addition, Schwarzenegger recently signed AB 32 which mandated a ratcheting down of CO2 emissions. The technology underlying that, said Welty, will be open source. When you collaborate on such a global issue, it’s helpful if you use open standards so everyone can communicate and interoperate, he explained.