Thursday, July 13, 2006

Open Standards in SA - know the law

I'm sure you've reached a SA government site that breaks in your firefox browser. In 2002 I participated in a workshop at SITA to discuss the regulations on interoperability and I've recently got a bee telling me that it's time for an upate... Any champions out there, please get involved.

Here's some background...Published in the Regulation Gazette No. 7491 Vol. 449 of 2002, Ammendments to the Public Service Act states:
Building and continuously adapting minimum interoperability standards is necessitated by the quick obsolescence of information communication technologies, expensive nature of information communications technology products and services, and a myriad of non-compatible information communications technology products in the market. If interoperability is not carefully managed these factors can result in the public service investing in obsolete, expensive and non-compatible information communications technology products and services that impede effective service delivery. Mandatory compliance by all departments with minimum interoperability standards for the public service is essential for seamless and integrated service delivery.

8.1 The Minister shall, after consultation with the Government Information Technology Officer Council (herein referred to as the “GITO Council”), issue Minimum Interoperability Standards (herein referred to as’ the “MIOS”) for the public service in the form of a handbook called the Handbook on Minimum lnteroperability Standards.
8.2 The MlOS shall include provision for standards and specifications for-
(a) interconnectivity;
(b) data integration; and
(c) information access regarding browsers and viewers.

Subsequent to the amendments to the Act the MIOS was developed. I attended a SITA workshop in 2002 where it was discussed and agreed.

Most recently an e-primer was released 29 june 2006 by IOSN, introducing readers to what and why they are important and explaining setting processes provides examples of policies (excl SA), initiatives and formats. It also addresses the challenges faced in implementing open standards.

At the establishment of the MIOS it was agreed that it needs to be extended and revised on a regular basis. I suggest that it's something that will have strong support from the GITOC and I am sure that SITA will be glad to facilitate the process again. If you want, I'm happy to assist by suggesting it through the GITOC OSS WG and/or through other individuals. Note: The MIOS is also mentioned in the FOSS policy docs (i.e. from the conference).

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