The Victorian Government has been running an inquiry into access to the data that it generates, and they’ve finally tabled their report (PDF). I’ve only had a chance for a quick scan of it so far but its three main recommendations are as follows.
Firstly – this info should be made available and it should be cheap (ideally free!):
The Committee has proposed three key recommendations for access to and re-use of Government information. First, the Committee recommends that the Victorian Government develop an Information Management Framework for the purpose of facilitating access to and re-use of Victorian Government information by government, citizens and businesses. The default position of the framework should be that all PSI produced by Victorian Government departments from now on be made available at no or marginal cost.
Secondly – they should use Creative Commons licensing wherever possible!
The second key recommendation of the Committee is that the Victorian Government make use of the Creative Commons licensing model for the release of PSI. The Committee was told Creative Commons licences can be appropriately used for up to 85 per cent of government information and data, providing a simple to understand and widely used system for the re-use of PSI. Remaining Victorian Government PSI should either not be released, or released under licences tailored specifically for restricted materials.
Thirdly – and least excitingly – there should be a portal for this info..
The Committee’s third key recommendation is that the Victorian Government establish an on-line directory, where the public can search for and obtain information about PSI held by the Victorian Government. Depending on the access conditions Government has attached to specific PSI, people will be able to download information and data directly, or make contact with people in the Victorian Government to discuss access conditions.
They also have a recommendation and finding relating to state government purchasing of software related to open source:
The Committee also considers the use of open source software (OSS) within and by the Victorian Government. One of the Committee’s recommendations is that the Government ensure tendering for software is neither licence specific nor has proprietary software-specific requirements, and that it meet the given objectives of Government.
Finding 23: There is sufficient evidence of cost-competitiveness between open source software and proprietary software for government to carefully consider both options during software procurement and development.
They also consider the licensing of software developed by the government:
As noted in section 10.4.3.2 below, current Victorian Government policy is to allocate IP rights in software produced for it to the software developer, with certain restrictions to ensure the Government’s interests are protected. This means that there is nothing to restrict people who develop software for the government from subsequently releasing it as OSS.
Unfortunately it looks like MS Word stuffed up their references and headings for them – what irony! There is no section 10.4.3.2 in the PDF, it’s probably referring to section 10.3.3, which is followed by section 10.3.4 which in turn is followed by 10.3.3.1 – er ?
Even more interesting is when they talk about file formats:
Recommendation 42: That the Victorian Government require, as part of its whole-of-government ICT Procurement Policy, that software procured by the Government be capable of saving files in open standard formats, and that wherever possible, the software be configured to save in open standard formats by default.
There’s heaps more there, but I’ve run out of time to read it tonight! 🙂