I’m invited to the June 2007 Executive Summit conference in Montebello to give a keynote on Gen X, Gen Y, Web 2.0 and the challenges of public service sector renewal. This is where Treasury Board gathers the CIO’s and other key IT people from across government.
After my presentation I end up in discussions with various friendly and engaging public servants. During one conversation a senior public servant challenges the notion that any government service – especially critical ones – could ever adopt the principles or ideas used by open source, or even Web 2.0 technologies. After all, he notes, we can’t rely on people, that’s why they pay taxes, so they can rely on government. This subject being a passion of mine we end up in a mini-debate during which he demands an example of an open system presently being used by government.
I ask him for a few hours and promise to blog my response.
Turns out one of the the most critical systems of our infrastructure – one that citizens expect to protect and save them from a variety of problems on a daily basis – is almost entirely dependent on a open system to deploy and allocate its resources with pinpoint accuracy. Is the entire system open source? No. But a critical component is. (Hint, it’s probably the one phone number we all know).