[nSLUG] local ns e-govt and oss???

Bob Ashley ax386 at chebucto.ca
Thu Feb 17 15:55:29 AST 2005


Michael D. Crawford wrote:
>>  Would
>> anyone in the Linux community ever consider donating some experience to
>> say, a small, cash-strapped municipality?
> 
> 
> I'd be happy to.  One thing that might be useful that I could do would 
> be to gather the IT staff of some cities all together in a meeting room, 
> and teach them how to install and configure linux servers and 
> workstations, suitable for various target tasks.

This is fantastic, Michael! It's the very kind of quotation that makes 
most bureaucrats squeamish. It destabilizes the entrenched structures of 
ways of doing things even while they know that citizen participation is 
the ultimate in democratic values!

In fact, I'd go further, venturing that what you're saying here is now 
occupying the loftiest visions of some govt 'mission statements', the 
active engagement of the people, by the people, for the people. Would 
you consider granting permission for me to cite that paragraph in my 
report? It has persuasive force, especially coming from "outside", from 
a real citizen. In fact, it's almost unassailable seeing as how they 
work for you, not the other way round! 'Memo' from the boss.

> If one must donate consulting time, I think the best use of it is to 
> teach the regular employees of the municipalities how to help 
> themselves.  Teach a man to fish, and all that.

You're probably right. Makes sense.

What I had in mind was a very small municipal office, like with a Chief 
Administrative Officer (CAO), his/her assistant, and perhaps two or 
three other employees. Four or five computers? There are a few such 
municipalities so one as a pilot would have representational relevance.

I will pin part of my argument on something called 'dependency theory'. 
In short, it posits that the further along one is on a committed path, 
the more costly it becomes to switch to an alternative strategy. Since 
NS municipal are NOT far along, dependency theory asserts that, while 
further behind, they have more flexibility to change, they are less 
susceptible to unpredictable changes. I just learned, too, that Canada's 
main web, its portal to the world is mounted on an Apache server. And 
Treasury Board Canada, an office close to the PM, is working on policy 
concerned with oss options.

The most formidable challenge could be more attitudinal than logistical 
or technical.

I've also seen some powerful ethical arguments for governments to use 
oss because it aligns with democratic values and eschews overdependency 
on a narrow segment of the private sector.

The local goal, of course, would be to see if we could work up to 
Halifax or Cape Breton Regional Municipalities, from a little one, like 
Argyle or the Town of Berwick. So first things first. As you probably 
know, policy cycles are slower than grist mills. So smaller projects are 
more likely move it along at a slighty brisker pace, if 'brisk' is even 
a real word in policy communities.

Thanks.

> Michael D. Crawford
> GoingWare Inc. - Expert Software Development and Consulting
> http://www.goingware.com/
> crawford at goingware.com
> 
>    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.
> 
> 
> 
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