Best open source in government: policies, new tools, and case studies

 by Melanie Chernoff (Red Hat) in

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As I reflect on another year of open source in government stories, I took a look back at the articles we published on this year to see if there were any noticeable commonalities. I found that most articles on the government channel fell into one of three categories: government policies, new tools available, and case studies.
This is consistent with the trend I highlighted last year (We have policies. Now what?). As Mark Bohannon is fond of saying, "Governments are wrestling with the 'how tos' of open source choices; not 'whether' to use it." Government policies are become more refined and sophisticated in regards to open technologies, and increasingly, governments are choosing to "default to open." However, governments still need help implementing those policies, and citizens are stepping up by creating new, open source tools and open formats to help governments get the job done.
Rather than do a traditional Top 10 list this year, I wanted to highlight a few standouts from each of these categories from 2014 that I think are worth reading if you missed them the first time. Or might even be worth a second read if it’s been a while.

Governments: open source policy and practice

The federal government is the single largest purchaser of code in the world. So why is this code—taxpayer-funded and integral to the day-to-day working of our democracy—so often hidden from public view? As someone who’s been on the inside, Balter does a great job explaining the US federal government’s "culture of no" and how the lack of "suits" behind open source really does make a difference in the procurement process.
Bohannon describes the US’s Digital Service Playbook and other initiatives of the US federal government this year. There’s also a good discussion here about the inherent risks of governments trying to insource 'freebie' software.
The UK government announced it would henceforth require compliance with Open Document Format (ODF) in software purchases in all public administrations. Brownell praises the policy, but notes with caution that good policy does not always equal good practice.

New open source tools for governments and citizens

RecordTrac, a web-based portal for making and managing public records requests (like FOIA), provides detailed data to both governments and the public to increase transparency and accountability in the records request process. Brilliant.
The FUEL Project provides linguistic resources needed for localization, including computer translation style and convention guides, translation assessment methodologies and matrix, complex text-layout rendering references system (UTRRS), including help documents for globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) world.
SpotCrime’s goal is to create a public-facing crime mapping and email alert website which collects public crime data from police agencies around the world and makes it available to anyone in machine readable format without restrictions on ability to use, consume, or share. While this does read a bit like a marketing piece, it’s clear that there’s a definite need for a common open standard for law enforcement agencies to share and report crime data.

Case studies

The administration in the Austrian capital, Vienna, outlined how and why it was expanding its use of open source solutions, including on its workstations, because of new requirements, open data, budget constraints and the major shift towards smartphones and tablets.
In this interview, Stephen Warren, acting VA CIO discussed continuity of the VA’s open source initiative at the US’s second largest federal government agency. The most interesting piece here is how their open source VistA project didn’t really thrive until developing a community around it. This is a key takeaway for governments—it’s not enough to release your software as open source. It takes a community to maintain and innovate.

Very honorable mention

2014 Year of Open Source Miracles by Gunnar Hellekson
The old "open source is insecure" FUD is made new again thanks to the fracas surrounding Heartbleed and Shellshock. Hellekson explains why that (tired) argument is wrong, and he does so beautifully.


It was a great year for open source in government. If you didn’t have time to read the articles, check out this video playlist: 8 videos to get you excited about open government original post here

XV Conferencia del Observatorio Internacional de Democracia Participativa

XV Conferencia del Observatorio Internacional de Democracia Participativa

Se celebra en Madrid

El Observatorio Internacional de Democracia Participativa celebra su XV Conferencia en Madrid, del 24 al 26 de marzo de 2015.

El Observatorio Internacional de la Democracia Participativa (OIDP) es una red de más de 600 ciudades del mundo, entidades, organizaciones y centros de investigación que quieren conocer, intercambiar y aplicar experiencias sobre democracia participativa en el ámbito local para profundizar la democracia en el gobierno de las ciudades.

Nace en 2001 en el marco de los Proyectos de Cooperación Descentralizada del Programa URB-AL de la Comisión Europea. Desde 2006 el OIDP trabaja en colaboración con la organización Ciudades y Gobiernos Locales Unidos, actualmente contribuyendo al desarrollo de la producción de conocimiento innovador al servicio de los gobiernos locales en el campo de la democracia participativa.

En noviembre de 2011 se recupera y enfatiza el objetivo original de la red de convertirse en un espacio de producción de conocimiento y de intercambio de experiencias útil para las ciudades que la forman (I+D). De este modo el OIDP asume de nuevo el reto de la reflexión en materia de democracia participativa a nivel mundial, con el fin de innovar y recomendar políticas concretas a las administraciones públicas del mundo, preferiblemente locales, y haciendo del intercambio de experiencias la principal base de trabajo.

Con el fin de alcanzar este reto, el OIDP contribuye a la producción y mejora del conocimiento en el campo de la democracia participativa desarrollando diversos proyectos y actividades. Entre otros, anualmente y desde su origen, la Presidencia de la red es ejercida por un gobierno local miembro que, asumiendo el compromiso de avanzar en el debate sobre democracia participativa y compartir experiencias y conocimiento en este campo, organiza una conferencia internacional.

Así, la XV Conferencia Internacional del OIDP se celebrará los días 24, 25 y 26 de marzo en Madrid (centro cultural metropolitano Centro Centro), ciudad que ostenta la presencia anual del Observatorio. El objetivo de estas jornadas es debatir sobre el presente y futuro de la democracia participativa en el mundo.

Ir al sitio de la conferencia aquí
Inscripciones aquí

Participatory Methods

IDS' website provides resources on a range of methods for inclusive social development.

It explains what participatory methods are, where and how they have been used, their problems and potentials and the debates about them. The focus is on participatory approaches to strategic analysis and programme design, monitoring and evaluation. It also includes resources on participatory learning, research and communication in organisations, networks and communities.

The approaches found on the website are rooted in the perspectives, wisdom and efforts of the citizens of this planet. Whether your concern is social change or small group action, and whether you are a development worker, activist, researcher or interested individual, we offer you resources that we trust will be useful and thought-provoking.

Guía metodológica de presupuestos participativos y otros docs

Gracias a la Red de Ciudades Participativas, recuperamos de su sitio web la Guía metodológica de presupuestos participativos y otros documentos.

Para ir a la página hacer click aquí

Biblioteca Gobierno Abierto

Gracias al Portal Gobierno Local podemos compartir con ustedes una importante lista de recursos para fomentar el Gobierno Abierto.

La lista da acceso a los textos completos y pueden llegar a ella a través del siguiente enlace: