Government goes open source, GOSCONit!

GOSCON10Government technologists and open source advocates will have a meeting of the minds at next week’s Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) in Portland, OR, October 27-28. The conference features a great program and speaker line-up (including our main man Gunnar Hellekson) and GovFresh is proud to support their great work.

Organizer Deborah Bryant, Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab Public Sector Communities Manager, talks about the importance of open source in government and the agenda behind GOSCON.

Why should government pay attention to open source?

The easy easy answer is that there’s a tremendous opportunity for the government to cut costs by using and releasing open source software. There’s the potential for various municipalities and agencies to reuse work already done by their counterparts (we’ll hear from agencies that have done just that, like the Tennesse/South Carolina collaboration creating law enforcement information sharing systems for hundreds of agencies). Reusing and sharing software between similar agencies not only cuts costs, it facilitates sharing of best practices, knowledge base, training and documentation.

What is GOSCON and its objective?

GOSCON is the Government Open Source Conference, an annual non-profit educational event produced by Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab. The conference is designed for government IT management as a place to learn from each others experience as well as industry in the successful development, adoption and use of open technology. Over time it’s turned into a significant platform for collaboration and brings together some of the best and brightest. The annual agenda supports making smart decisions about IT investments and finding ways to harness the power of collaboration with other cities, counties and states, at times in concert with the federal government, to share the costs and benefits of sharing software. It also provides a forum for discussion and planning on topics like operational policy and contracting.

This year GOSCON looks at open source software and collaboration as an enabler of leading Open Government and Transparency initiatives throughout the United States. Speakers come from all levels of government, from City Officials to Federal Agencies. Its rich history includes speakers like Aneesh Chopra, now Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Vivek Kundra, now Chief Information Officer of the United States, and Dugan Petty, Chief Information Officer of the State of Oregon. The conference has welcomed visitors from as far afield as Brazil, Sri Lanka, Japan, Ireland and Malaysia.

What topics will be discussed?

We’re going to talk about open source as a strategy to create significant and important systems, like a national health information network. We’re welcoming David Riley from the CONNECT project, a government run open source project that just received the Wall Street Journal Award for Innovation in Health IT. Among other things, David’s Keynote Address will discuss the fertile ground for public and private sector collaboration created when agency code bases are open source and there’s a stated goal of community building in a particular project.

Transparency and Open Data and the enabling role open source software has played is important this year. We’re excited that the the New York State Senate CIO, Andrew Hoppin, and members of his staff will be discussing the role that open source tools played in allowing their agency to become a more transparent, engaged legislative body.

Another key theme will be the use of open source to cut costs while increasing service to an agency’s clients. We have speakers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the Naval Postgraduate School and the City of Portland, Oregon covering these topics.

We’re also convening some great conversations with folks from Civic Commons, Open Plans, Code for America, Open Source for America, and The Open Source Lab to begin unifying the conversation around a common platform for creating and sharing software for government. I’m hearing a lot of buzz around the federal government’s express intention to create a “government forge” from scores of people and organizations that would like to have a voice in that important initiative.

Who should attend and why?

The conference is designed for senior information technology management in the public sector; Chief Information Officers and other managers with a responsibility for Information Technology, their senior strategic planning, architecture, contract and procurement staff would all benefit from attending GOSCON 2010. Cross-state associations with common or shared business practices and problems will want to attend and consider collaborative development projects. This year, with an additional emphasis on open data, GOSCON is also an ideal event for advocates of open government and transparency. Why? Lots to learn, lots of people come to share. This is the place where lots of cross connections happen, where project partners are found, and where agencies are unvarnished in sharing their experience, successes and lessons learned alike.

Attendees will be treated to in-depth explorations of Open technology strategy, policy, acquisitions, operations, organizational readiness, exemplary projects and use cases in our breakout sessions. Conference content includes lessons learned in the development and integration of open source solutions into agency environments, exposure to projects and existing software applications and services, and opportunities to establish and foster relationships for collaboration around shared interests. GOSCON offers a place for government and industry luminaries and to gather, present and network with representatives from both public and private sectors, in a non-commercial setting.

Learn more about GOSCON at or follow on Twitter at @goscon.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at


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