SA minister outlines OSS plans
Responding to a question in Parliament this afternoon, South African minister of public service and administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi described in detail her department\’s support for open source software in the delivery of public services. In her response to a question from ANC MP Andries Nel, Fraser-Moleketi said OSS was already widely used by government and was \”part of a deliberate strategy aimed at generating widespread knowledge and understanding [of ICT].\”
\”OSS has recently emerged as a powerful way of geberating knowledge as well as economic value … and we are working onm this quite extensively,\” said Moleketi.
Fraser-Moleketi also referred to the recent study undertaken by the Government IT Officers Council OSS working group saying \”an investigation by GITOC concluded that the appropriate use of OSS by government could yield significant advantages, not only in terms of greater efficiency of government operations but also in realising the potential conveniences for citizens, economic development and the contribution OSS could make to Nepad initiatives.\”
Fraser-Moleketi said a research report would be released by the 16th of this month by GITOC and aimed at getting input on the total cost of ownership of the OSS tools available to government.
Most interestingly, though, Fraser-Moleketi also highlighted a number of areas in which the government had already realised the benefits of using open source software. In particular the minister detailed successes within the Department of Health in the Northern Cape province saying \”the Northern Cape Health Department has been considered one of the best in the use of OSS because they use all their applications in Linux. And some of us .. I know with my own department today our systems are down because of a some problem in the system. We don\’t see that in Northern Cape where they use open source.\”
Minister Fraser-Moleketi said the country could be proud of the OSS work that had been done in particularly the area of health and communications. \”The rest of Africa and the world are looking at some of the [OSS] initiatives we are involved in.\”
Responding to follow-up questions regarding viruses and hacking Fraser-Moleketi said OSS was seen as a more secure operating environment because the source code is freely available and can be analysed by a lot more people than proprietary software.