Betrand points to a publication of the Swiss government detailing their open source strategy.

This reminded me that I wanted to blog about a speech I attended during OOP 2004. It was a keynote by an IT director of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior talking about the German eGovernment strategy.

By the end of 2005 Germany wants to provide internet-access to all federal services where this is possible - and a lot of it is already done. Of 400 services on the list, more than 240 are already online according to the "Fortschrittsanzeiger".

What I found to be the most interesting part was that an agency of the Federation and the German states has been created (not interesting in itself) and they have delivered a number of documents and components.

The first - and probably most important for eGovernment - document is SAGA. "Standards and Architectures for e-Government Applications". This contains detailed recommendations on the development process, software architecture and platform as well as data descriptions to use. XML is everywhere. In the middleware field J2EE wins with .NET being "under observation". PHP is the recommended technology for services "without middleware". Adhering to SAGA is not mandatory, but you better don't expect public funding if you don't follow it.

The other interesting document is a Migration Guide for services that are going to migrate to the recommended architecture. This also includes migration of desktop systems in public offices. The introduction goes a long way to explain that it wasn't a single-sided pro-open-source guide. For a lot of areas it shows a (mostly Microsoft based) proprietary "now" and lists some migration alternatives. Sometimes there is only one alternative. For almost all areas - one exception is "middleware", since J2EE can, but doesn't have to be open source - there is at least one open source migration alternative.

This migration guide is quite detailed and obviously applies outside of German government offices as well. Central pieces of the open source architectures are Linux, Samba, OpenLDAP and Apache HTTPD 2.x. In some areas there is no clear decision between open source alternatives (like with RDBMSes and office applications) and the document contains various interesting comparisons of the alternatives.

The other interesting aspect is how those documents have been assembled. There are public online discussion boards and everybody can contribute.

The German government's position on open source software seems to be quite a bit more positive than the Swiss'. Several government agencies sponsor open source projects. An example is Ägypten that incorporates support for electronic signatures according to the German "Signaturgesetz" into various open source MUAs.

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