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Linux Australia

Linux and Open Source in Government

The challenges
Adelaide, 12–13 January 2004

Conference Programme

Time Monday, 12 January 2004—Case Studies and Technical Issues
0900 - 0905Conference Opening, Greg Lehey, President, AUUG
0905 - 0950Distinguished speaker, Hon. Ian Gilfillan, Deputy Parliamentary Leader, S.A. Democrats
0950 - 1035Commonwealth Administrative Health Data Mining using Debian GNU/Linux, Graham Williams, CSIRO
1035 - 1100Morning Tea Break
1100 - 1145The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's new Internet and Intranet Web portals, Peter Bailey, Synop
1145 - 1230NOIE's Open Source Solution to Web Content Management, Avi Miller, NOIE
1230 - 1330Lunch
1330 - 1415Open source software in health, Dr. Peter Schloeffel
1415 - 1500A demonstration of technology to facilitate disabled access, Malcolm Tredinnick
1500 - 1520Afternoon Tea Break
1520 - 1605Using open standards to share spatial data using Mapserver, PostGIS and other open source GIS software, Antti Roppola, Bureau of Rural Sciences
1605 - 1650Legal Issues (Panel)
Time Tuesday, 13 January 2004—Legal Considerations
0900 - 0945Distinguished speaker, Senator Kate Lundy, Labor Senator for the ACT
0945 - 0955Distinguished speaker, Dr Andrew Southcott MP on behalf of Hon. Daryl Williams, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
0955 - 1030Distinguished speaker, Tony Judge, NOIE
1030 - 1100Morning Tea Break
1100 - 1145Policy makers' Positions (Panel)
1145 - 1230Software access regimes in government, Brendan Scott
1230 - 1330Lunch
1330 - 1415Legal Issues For the Use of Free and Open Source Software in Government, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, School of Law, QUT
1415 - 1500Open Source and the Public Sector, Ian Oi, Blake Dawson Waldron
1500 - 1520Afternoon Tea Break
1520 - 1605Overcoming the Challenges Facing Open Source in Government, Con Zymaris
1605 - 1650Closing Paper, Roland Slee, Director, Business and Technology Solutions, Oracle Corporation Australia
1650 - 1655Conference Close, David Newall, Programme Chair

Details correct at time of publishing.  This programme is subject to change.

Legal Issues For the Use of Free and Open Source Software in Government

Professor Brian Fitzgerald (QUT Law School) and Graham Bassett (Barrister at Law)

As Australian governments contemplate the (further) adoption of free and open source software they need to understand the legal landscape surrounding such software.  At very least they need to understand the obligations and differences between the GNU GPL and the BSD licence.

Proprietary licences employ a different model.  They do not provide access to the source code.  They normally restrain the government user from copying, modifying or distributing works beyond the scope of the licence.

Governments need to understand that the GPL imposes obligations on further distribution of derivative works.  Is government willing to return code to the commons where it has the obligation and what does this mean for confidentiality and security issues within government?

What does distribution in the context of government actually mean?  Is the government one indivisible Crown or are departments to be regarded as separate units?  In the Preamble of the Constitution, we see that the Australian government is not a divisible entity.  Rather, we have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established”.  Can it be argued that if departments distribute code of derivative works between departments, the GPL obligations are not invoked as the “distribution” takes place only within the one entity?

What does value for money mean in government tendering processes?  Does it incorporate the philosophy of sharing knowledge with the Australian community?

How does the GPL work in the Australian legal environment especially in the context of mandatory consumer provisions regarding fitness for purpose, merchantability and product liability in the Trade Practices Act.  For this reason should the GPL be "ported" to Australian law like the Creative Commons licence?

Is the GPL a licence or a contract?  A contract involves the passing of consideration, but consideration does not have to be in the form of money.  Would the obligation to share source code in derivative works amount to consideration so that a GPL licence would be binding?  What is the relevance of this debate for government?

Some politicians have introduced legislation that mandates the use of free and open source software in government procurement contracts.  Some Industry groups have opposed these legislative proposals saying they give preference to free and open source software.

The proposer of the Democrats Bill, Senator Brian Greig, rebutted these claims.  He points out that many current government systems, often unwittingly, mandate use of proprietary systems because software procurement choices have not considered open source alternatives.  The Australian Tax Office’s much vaunted ‘online lodgement system’, Greig argues, will not work with open formats or open source software.  Greig argues:

The forces of proprietary software and their supporters have tried to portray this bill as being protectionist in nature, one that tries to pick software favourites.  It is in fact the complete opposite.  Currently, we have a system that is largely based on proprietary formats, a system that does pick favourites.  Removing this and opening up the playing field to all, is the raison d’etre for this bill.1

This paper will address the issues raised above.

1 Senator Brian Greig, Second Reading Speech

Professor Brian Fitzgerald

Professor Brian Fitzgerald
Head of School of Law
Queensland University of Technology

Open Source and the Public Sector

On 10 December 2003, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed the Government Procurement (Principles) Guideline Amendment Act 2003, regarding the use of open source software by ACT government entities.  The new Act requires those government entities to consider open source software, and avoid procuring software that either does not comply with open or ISO standards or allows the software vendor to exercise exclusive control over its sale or distribution.

The ACT Act follows the introduction by the Australian Democrats of similar Bills in the Commonwealth Senate and the South Australian upper house.  Legislation has also been foreshadowed in New South Wales.  Notwithstanding the passage of the ACT Act, the analogous Bills proposed for South Australia and the Commonwealth parliament are unlikely to pass in those jurisdictions.

The significance (and intent) of these developments, however, is that it heralds a move towards the legitimisation of open source as a development tool.  Like it or not, there is likely to be increasing pressure on IT consultants and project leaders to consider the alternatives to Microsoft, particularly when advising in the public sector.

Some background...

In simple terms, an open source licence involves the provision of software (including the code) free of charge on condition that the recipient likewise makes the software and any modifications available to third parties free of charge.  The key feature of an open source licence will be the stipulation that the product may be resupplied to third parties, but only on condition that the third party accepts identical licence terms.  In such circumstances, the licensee will be entering into a licence agreement with the original licensor.

The ACT Act

On 27 August 2003, Ms Roslyn Dundas introduced the Government Procurement (Principles) Guideline Amendment Bill 2003 (ACT) into the ACT Legislative Assembly.  The original form of the ACT Bill introduced a new section 6A into the Government Procurement (Principles) Guideline 2002 (No 2) DI2002-58 (ACT), subsection (1) of which simply stated:

"In the procurement of computer software, a Territory entity should, wherever practicable, prefer open source software to proprietary software".

In the event, section 6A, as enacted, was amended to:

  • change "preference" for open source software procurement to mere "consideration" of it in the procurement process;
  • ensure that the definition of "open source software" used is the one published by the open source initiative in force from time to time (available at http://www.opensource.org);
  • add an explicit requirement to avoid procuring software that either does not comply with open or ISO standards or allows the software vendor to exercise exclusive control over its sale or distribution; and
  • impose a three year "sunset clause" expiry period on the new section 6A.


The rationale underlying the ACT Act and comparable Commonwealth and South Australian Bills was that a small number of software manufacturers were considered to have a disproportionate and restrictive hold on the supply, use and development of software within the Commonwealth public sector.  Introducing the Commonwealth Bill, Senator Greig complained that "the closed shop that exists at the moment means that those departments currently saving data in proprietary file formats, such as MicroSoft's Word software, are risking locking themselves into using that software indefinitely" and that "control over Australian data should rest with Australia and not with the shareholders of the company that is owned, operated and controlled offshore".

What about International Developments?

It is important to note that the approach taken by the Democrats to procurement of open source issue is by no means the only one available.  Significantly, the public sector in other countries have already suggested and adopted some other options.  Key examples that bear comparison to the Australian public sector environment are:

  • The US: In January, 2003, the Mitre Corporation released a well regarded 168 page report prepared by it for the Defense Information Systems Agency regarding use of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) in the US Department of Defense (DOD).  Amongst other things, the report identified at least 5 possible policy approaches to FOSS in DOD.  In the event, DOD has since issued a Memorandum (in May 2003) reiterating its current (de facto) policy preserving the "Limbo Status" of FOSS within DOD but providing additional guidance on the acquisition, use and development of FOSS within DOD.  Importantly, the Democrats' approach (Advocating FOSS Products) represents only one of the options identified by DOD, and has not (yet) been adopted in that agency.  By contrast, other governments and government agencies - such as the State of Massachusetts - have been more forthright in promulgating open source procurement.
  • The UK: In July 2002, the Office of the e-Envoy issued the UK Government's Open Source Software Policy, which has as its fundamental policy a commitment to create "a level playing field" between open source software from a range of suppliers and proprietary software within UK Government procurement.  Consistent with this approach, the policy retains a basic principle that individual procurement decisions for open source solutions must be ultimately justifiable on a "value for money" basis.

Notably, this is consistent with the core principle of the current Australian Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (last re-released in February 2002).  More specifically, the UK Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) recently issued a report suggesting that open source should be the default mechanism for exploiting software research funded by the UK Ministry of Defense.

Less directly relevant to the Australian public sector environment are various more radical proposals by other governments and government agencies (particularly those in developing countries) that go so far as to directly fund the development of open source industries in direct competition with proprietary software, and to phase out the use of proprietary software altogether.

Australian Implications

In this section, the proposed paper considers the implications and relevance of the various options already being explored overseas in relation to the Australian public sector environment, and concludes that:

  • The present Australian policy debate regarding public sector procurement of open source software is developing the further sophistication required to be more directly relevant in Australian circumstances, but needs further development in order to be of practical assistance to Australian public sector agencies faced with these issues.
  • Amongst other things, that debate needs to further detail the differences and relationships between concepts such as open standards, open source (and various sub-aspects of open source), free software, software "abandoned" to the public domain and open access, as different interests and considerations arise in relation to each of them.
  • To develop the debate, focus needs to be extended beyond procurement issues and contextualised within the broader responsibilities, functions and activities of Australian governments.  When so extended and contextualised, further implications of open source for our public sector are revealed.

Ian Oi, Special Counsel, Intellectual Property and Communications Group, Blake Dawson Waldron

Ian Oi's practice focuses on information technology, communications, e-commerce and cyberspace matters.  Ian acts for a broad range of customers (including governmental organisations) and suppliers in the public and private sectors, particularly in relation to government procurement and major information technology and telecommunications transactions.  In particular, he has acted for many years for several State and Commonwealth agencies in relation to these issues.

Ian first joined Blake Dawson Waldron in 1991.  In 1994-1998, he was attorney, and then senior attorney and negotiator, with the IBM group in Australia.  In 2000-2001, Ian undertook the Master of Laws in Intellectual Property Law degree at the George Washington University, Washington DC, where he was awarded the 2001 Marcus B. Finnegan Memorial Award for intellectual property writing.  He was also awarded the 2001 GC O'Donnell Copyright Essay Prize for his analysis of American copyright in Australian cyberspace.

He is a member of the NSW Society for Computers and the Law, the Management Committee of the Copyright Society of Australia, and the Legal Forum of the Australian Information Industries Association (AIIA).

Ian has a particular interest in open source issues in Australia, and hosted and chaired an AIIA seminar in Sydney in October 2002 on these issues.  He has also advised both private and public sector clients regarding legal aspects of open source development and licensing.  Amongst other things, Ian is an active member of the team currently working to Australianise the US "copyleft" licences developed by the Creative Commons initiative, which aims to provide a firmer legal foundation for the creation of an international public domain for non-software materials such as website content, text and graphic works, and music.

Gordon Hughes, Partner, Intellectual Property and Communications Group, Blake Dawson Waldron

Gordon Hughes practises principally in the area of information technology law, data protection law, electronic commerce and intellectual property rights.

Gordon was rated by "Chambers Global The World's Leading Lawyers 2002/2003" as Australia's leading IT practitioner.  He previously received a similar ranking in "Legal Profiles".  He is also the co-author of a leading text on IT law, Computer Contracts: Principles and Precedents, and is the author of another text, Data Protection in Australia.  He is the contributing author to the Australian Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents, and to Salmon's Practical Forms and Precedents NSW, in relation to IT contracts.

His practice includes the drafting and negotiation of IT contracts in respect of a range of transactions involving the supply of IT goods and services (particularly outsourcing transactions), advice on privacy and data protection legislation, advice on e-commerce issues (particularly, relevant federal and state legislation) and advice on related intellectual property issues.  He has undertaken work for government departments and agencies, federal and state, in most jurisdictions and also has an extensive private sector practice.

Gordon is a member of the International Legal Services Advisory Council, established by the Commonwealth Attorney-General.  He has previously served as a member of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Core Consultative Group on Privacy and as a member of the Victorian Government's Expert Advisory Group on Electronic Commerce and the Victorian Government's Data Protection Advisory Committee.  He was president of the Law Institute of Victoria in 1992-1993, president of the Law Council of Australia in 1999-2000 and president of LAWASIA in 2001-2003.  Gordon is also a former president of the Victorian Society for Computers and the Law.  He is an honorary life member of the Law Institute of Victoria and of the Victorian Society for Computers and the Law.

Software Access regimes in Government

  1. Governments should institute an access regime to provide access to software components where the development of those components was funded by the State.  An access regime can provide net benefits when applied to most software components.  Components which ought to remain confidential, and those for which the State has a real intention to commercialise should not be the subject of such an access regime.
  2. The historical absence of access regime structures has led to significant opportunity costs being suffered by the State and its taxpayers.  An access regime will provide the opportunity to inject significant value into the State s economy going forward through the creation of a Software Base.  The Software Base can be seeded from existing software development projects and receive ongoing contributions of code from Government software development work.  This value will emerge through direct contributions and through efficiency gains.
  3. An access regime can be viewed as a form of public private partnership (PPP) structure in which the Government establishes the fundamentals of a market for access, with private enterprise driving that market going forward.
  4. An access regime over software maximises taxpayer value from software development spend.
  5. The benefits can be accessed at a modest reengineering cost, but without long term maintenance costs.
  6. The Government currently has an informal practice for the sharing of code across Government.  An access regime would formalise and extend that practice.
  7. The arguments in this white paper are generally applicable to any Government which engages in the practice of developing software, whether in house or through contractors.

Brendan Scott

Brendan is a lawyer, an open source advocate and a proponent of customer copyright.  He runs Open Source Law, a Sydney based legal practice devoted to providing cost effective legal services in the areas of open source, IT and Telecommunications law.  Brendan is the immediate past president of the New South Wales Society for Computers and the Law.

Brendan was admitted in 1993 and, since that time, has provided advice and assistance to his clients on a wide range of IT related issues.  He has given advice in relation to open source in areas such as acquisition and supply of software under open source licences, internal policies relating to open source acquisitions and supplies and advice on open source risks and how to manage them.  Some clients Brendan has acted for include: Dimension Data Australia, the Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW, and the Sydney Futures Exchange.

Brendan writes papers and speaks regularly on open source related issues.  His paper "Why Free Software's Long Run TCO Must be Lower" was well received by the open source community and he advocates the release of Government created code under Open Source licences.

Brendan is on the editorial panel of the Internet Law Bulletin, is a past editor of Computers and Law and is a frequent contributor to internet and document management periodicals.  He is the maintainer of the Open Source AU weekly news digest of business and government related open source news.  Drop him an email if you'd like to be added.

Brendan can be contacted at brendanscott@optusnet.com.au.
Brendan's papers are available from: www.members.optusnet.com.au/brendanscott/papers

A demonstration of technology to facilitate disabled access

Almost one in five Australians have some kind of permanent or long-term disability.  Providing appropriate means for these people to access their computers can quickly become an expensive proposition.

Over the past couple of years, the GNOME Accessibility Project (http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gap) has been working steadily towards providing "out of the box" functionality that can meet the requirements of many people with disabilities For the cases which are not covered by standard packages (for example, when specialist hardware devices are required), the infrastructure strives to provide appropriate places to incorporate any third-party features.  Similarly, the Free Standards Group Accessibility Workgroup (http://accessibility.freestandards.org) is working to trying and standardise some of the technologies used across Open Source platforms.

This talk will present a demonstration of some of the technology that is available right now for facilitating disabled access — mostly focusing on the GNOME project, merely because that is where the author has the most expertise.  It will also look at some at some of the theoretical underpinnings of this software: the problems that we are trying to solve, the drive for interoperability and easy access, and the common hurdles facing even the most basic assistive solutions today.

Malcolm Tredinnick

By day, Malcolm works for CommSecure, Australia (http://www.commsecure.com.au), developing large, redundant, highly-available systems that mostly interact with banks and stock exchanges.  This work is done almost solely on Linux systems using commonly-available Open Source packages with custom modifications as required by circumstances.

By night (and weekends), he contributes to a number of projects and mailing lists.  Predominantly working on various GNOME projects, he maintains a few packages and authors various pieces of documentation (such as the GNOME internationalisation guide and portability guide), helps to fix bugs and offers unsolicited opinions on the mailing lists.

Open Source Software in Health

Health was one of the first industries exposed to open source software.  The US Veterans Administration's VistA project begun in the 1970s was the largest and probably the first industry-specific open source project ever undertaken.  There have since been over 100 health-specific open source projects including two from Australia.  The Australian-led Gnumed project for General Practice is probably the most ambitious open source project undertaken since VistA.  Health has also seen the first commercially funded industry-specific open source company, FreePM in the United States.  There are also several commercial health-specific open source consulting companies around the world.  Government support for open source in health has been strong in several European countries but has received little explicit support elsewhere.

The Australian-developed openEHR project has introduced a new concept into the open source movement – the use of open source components to underpin interoperability in health informatics standards.  openEHR is the basis for emerging Electronic Health Record (EHR) standards in Europe and Australia and is also likely to be the basis for the international EHR interoperability standard within the next two years.  The core sections of these standards necessary to ensure interoperability between different EHR systems, will be built and distributed free of charge to all implementers, as robust production-quality open source middleware components.  This new and unique approach is intended to promote the ubiquitous uptake of interoperability standards without threatening the business of traditional commercial vendors.

The open source health community has an active collaborative forum called the Open Source Health Care Alliance (OSHCA) which has nearly 300 members from around the world.  It operates a very active List Serv and runs a well attended annual conference in Europe or the United States.  There is also a dedicated daily news website called LinuxMedNews for open source in health.

Dr Peter Schloeffel

Peter has qualifications in both medicine and computing.  He worked for IBM for seven years before studying medicine and subsequently made a decision to combine these two careers.  He is a founding member of the openEHR Foundation, a founding Director and CEO of Ocean Informatics, Managing Director of EHRcom, and is also a part-time General Practitioner. Peter has had a long interest in electronic health records and standards relevant to clinical computing.  He is currently Chair of the Standards Australia Electronic Health Record Committee and a member of the National Health Information Standards Advisory Committee.  He is an active member of several other committees and working groups involved in the standardisation of electronic health records.  He is the Australian delegate on the EHR to ISO/TC 215 and a member of the CEN (European Standards Organisation) EHR Taskforce.

A case study in the use of Open Source technologies for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's new Internet and Intranet Web portals

This paper addresses a number of issues that are topical.  These include:

  • A practical demonstration of a major project built on Open Source technologies
  • The role of Open Source in Government
  • Open Source and the Critical Information Infrastructure
  • Secure deployment of Open Source systems

In 2001, the ACCC established there was a business need to replace their existing Intranet and Internet websites.  They set about determining their requirements for the replacement of systems, and released an open tender to the market in March 2002.  A consortium of SecureNet Ltd as prime and Synop Pty Ltd won the tender, with a solution using significant amounts of Open Source technologies.  Activities commenced in mid 2002; the system was in active use within the ACCC in March 2003, and operational changeover occurred in November and December 2003.

The Sytadel v4.0 content management framework is written completely in PHP 4.3, and stores all content natively in XML, into a relational database.  At the ACCC, the database technology used for Sytadel is MySQL 4.0.  All servers run Linux (both Debian and RedHat Enterprise distributions).  The web server used is Apache 1.3.27.  The solution uses three servers: an internet server, which runs Apache, Sytadel and MySQL; an intranet web server, which runs Apache and Sytadel, and an intranet database server, which runs MySQL only.  The three servers are located in SecureNet=E2=80=99s accredited secure hosting facility.

Throughout the course of the project, the Synop development team experimented with a range of different XML library utilities that interoperate with PHP.  The final choices were libxml2 and libxslt, although Sablotron and xalan/xerces had also been tried.  Other Open Source software projects that were used include: curl, expat, mod_ssl, openssl, xpdf, and zlib.  Anti-virus software (KAV) in use is from Kaspersky Labs.  Sytadel is a proprietary product, but full source code is provided to customers to ensure that they have access to the code to solve any issues that arise themselves.

We provide a full description of how these various technologies were assembled together to deliver an effective solution, and the benefits of having Open Source infrastructure to build on top of while Sytadel v4.0 was under development.  Some of the complexities of working with different XML components in conjunction with PHP, while the PHP platform itself was under rapid development, are discussed.  We also show the benefits of planning and integrating security from the start (rather than an add on) of an Open Source deployment.

Sytadel provides full version control of content and compliance with all relevant Australian Government Online Information System Obligations.  The ACCC has substantial requirements with respect to meeting these obligations, as an Australian Government agency.  The ACCC as a regulator of competition is a strong supporter of different forms of software technology being made available to Government, without endorsing one particular technology over another.  The project discussed in this paper serves as an excellent demonstration that Open Source technologies can play an effective role in Government IT projects.

The new Intranet and Internet Web portals for the ACCC form some of the most critical information infrastructure at the organisation.  The Internet portal is the public online face of the organisation, which is used by many different organisations and people every day to stay up to date with competition and consumer information.  The Intranet is the hub of information dissemination for the organisation, and integrates a number of the other existing enterprise systems.  Using Sytadel and the underlying Linux operating system environment enabled the ACCC to connect these widely disparate systems, which include a proprietary HR system (AURION), the TRIM records management system, and a number of custom ACCC applications developed on top of an Oracle database.  We discuss how these different components were integrated into the system, and which Open Source facilities were used.

In conclusion, the project was a substantial success and was enabled through the careful adoption of Open Source components and technologies.  Open Source technologies helped to keep the total cost of ownership down by many thousands of dollars.  They also allowed changes and fixes to be made as the system evolved throughout development.  The Sytadel CMS has provided a platform for future development of Open Source modules that can be developed in house for the ACCC providing an opportunity to reduce on going costs of system build and maintenance.

Peter Bailey et al

The authors have all been involved actively throughout the life of the project that is the subject of this study.

Peter Bailey, Richard Bennett-Forrest and Nathan Wallace (Synop) designed and implemented Sytadel 4.0, the content management framework that forms the core of the Intranet and Internet portal system at the ACCC.  They also worked actively in the customisation and delivery aspects of the project, together with other members of the Synop team.

Mark Nearhos (SecureNet) was project manager for the prime contractor, SecureNet, and involved in many aspects of the project delivery, including security, training and testing.

Justin Freeman (Agileware) and Fiona Urquhart (ACCC Web team manager) developed the original requirements for the project, and worked on behalf of ACCC with the team from SecureNet and Synop to provide customer feedback, and integration of Sytadel into the business processes of the ACCC.  Nigel Martin (ACCC Director, Information Services Section) was the Project Director for the ACCC, and championed the adoption of Open Source technologies to the ACCC executive.

NOIE's Open Source Solution to Web Content Management

NOIE recently adopted a complete Open Source solution for its website.  This presentation details the process whereby NOIE refreshed their website and the lessons learnt.  It covers various issues ranging from the physical transition through to risk management and staff training.

Avi Miller

Avi has been working in the Information Systems industry since 1993.  He has extensive experience in networking, including server and workstation hardware; network, server and workstation operating systems; and LAN & WAN connectivity.

His roles and responsibilities in several projects have included technical project management, network architecture design, network and software integration design, workstation environment development, software deployment and troubleshooting.&nbps; Avi is highly skilled at network analysis, especially to improve productivity and performance within the major PC-based LAN and GroupWare environments.

Avi is the leader of a small team responsible for managing NOIE?s Internet and Intranet infrastructure, including all hardware, software and support.&nbps; Currently he is project managing NOIE?s refresh of its corporate Internet and Intranet websites.

Commonwealth Administrative Health Data Mining using Debian GNU/Linux

As government departments increasingly turn to GNU/Linux for their desktops, some early adopters are already performing serious work with GNU/Linux.  CSIRO Data Mining has been using Debian GNU/Linux as a key platform for research and development in Data Mining for over 4 years.  During that time we have developed an environment for the analysis of very large datasets with delivery of analyses over secure web connections to clients as web services.  All work has been performed on Debian GNU/Linux platforms with a variety of open source software including MySQL, Python, R, LaTeX, and Apache.  A number of open source programs have been developed for data mining and employed within the projects.

CSIRO Data Mining has also set up an experimental network for a government department consisting of a number of Debian GNU/Linux machines running on commodity hardware.  The network provided a data server for managing several hundred gigabytes of data.  Analysts would subset the data in various ways to provide specific datasets for policy research.  The solution provides an efficient and extremely cost effective alternative to traditional closed-source solutions.

In this presentation I will relate our successful experiences (and lessons learnt) with transitioning government teams to Debian GNU/Linux.  I will also highlight some of the scientific and policy outcomes achieved.

Graham Williams

Dr Graham Williams is principal computer scientist, CSIRO Data Mining.  Graham has lead many data mining projects for clients including the Health Insurance Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, the Commonwealth Bank, NRMA Insurance Limited, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Queensland Health, and the Australian Customs Service.  He has developed software and hardware environments for data mining, and implemented web services for the delivery of data mining.  Developments include Multiple Decision Tree Induction, HotSpots for identifying target areas in very large data collections, and WebDM for the delivery of data mining services over the web using XML.  He is also the author of the wajig administrative tool for Debian GNU/Linux and author of Debian GNU/Linux Desktop Survival (http://togaware.com/linux/survivor).

Using open standards to share spatial data using Mapserver, PostGIS and other open source GIS software

Many Australian and International agencies already use open source applications to deliver spatial data for free over the Internet.  A steady increase in the variety and capability of open source GIS technologies, and widespread adoption of open standards is greatly enhancing this capability.  This paper will give an overview of selected open source GIS & mapping technologies such as Mapserver (http://mapserver.gis.umn.edu), PostGIS (http://postgis.refractions.net), GDAL (http://www.remotesensing.org/gdal) & MapLab (http://www.dmsolutions.ca) for online mapping as well as open standards such as those promoted by the OpenGIS consortium (http://www.opengis.org) and the Australian Spatial Dataset Directory (http://www.auslig.gov.au/asdd/tech/) distributed database.  We will then examine how these tools have been applied to enable community access to spatial Natural Resource Management (NRM) data, using applications developed by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (http://data.brs.gov.au/mapserv/plant) and others as examples.

Antti Roppola

Antti Roppola is a scientist with the Bureau of Rural Sciences.  He has an honours degree majoring in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing from the University of Canberra and his honours thesis examined the role of data in resolving environmental conflicts.

He has ten years of experience as a GIS professional and has been involved with a number of projects delivering analyses of Natural Resource Management (NRM) issues.  He has presented departmental seminars on topics including numerical modelling of natural systems, online mapping, and spatial metadata management.  He is a published author with journal articles and contributions to other publications, including the Spatial Sciences 2003 conference in September.  He has also been known to give impromptu presentations on open source GIS at Canberra Linux User Group (CLUG) meetings.

Antti is currently responsible for implementing online mapping facilties for the Bureau of Rural Sciences, which involves selecting suitable technologies and using them to build applications for delivering Bureau projects.  This currently involves Mapserver, PHP, MySQL, Postgres, PostGIS, Apache Cocoon, ISite and Debian Linux.

Antti's first involvement with OSS was in 1993 when he downloaded a copy of GNUtar so that he could make backups of his Amiga onto QIC-150 cartridges.  This was followed by Linux 1.2 when he gained access to PC hardware.

Overcoming the Challenges Facing Open Source in Government

This paper will cover the Business Case for Open Source, the IP issues facing both government users and developers, the Liability, Warranty and Indemnification issues and how to overcome them, a best-practice Buyer's Guide for government procurement staff, giving them the machinery and syntax they need to understand how to evaluate Open Source software as corporate consumers, and finally an overview of how Open Source solution providers should sell into the government market and how to work with the Government Information Technology and Communications contracting framework version 4 (GITC4) and the Endorsed Supplier Arrangement.

Con Zymaris

Con Zymaris (conz@cybersource.com.au) is the Editor of the AUUG Journal, the CEO of Cybersource Pty. Ltd. a long-standing Open Systems and Open Source Professional Services company, the convenor of industry-cluster Open Source Victoria, the Open Source columnist for Australian Developer magazine and the co-creator of the Australian Linux Journal publication.  Con has been using and programming computers since 1979, using the Internet since 1989 and is an enthusiastic advocate for open-source software libre, using Linux since 1993.  While computers were always a passion which morphed into a career, at the University of Melbourne he actually studied Physics.  One day, he intends to write a book on the Computer History of Australia.

Senator Kate Lundy

Kate Lundy was elected as the Labor Senator for the Australian Capital Territory in March 1996.

She was appointed to the shadow ministry after the 1998 election and following the 2001 federal election holds the portfolios of Information Technology and Sport.

Kate Lundy is an active member of several Parliamentary and Senate committees and was a member of the ALP's Knowledge nation Taskforce.

Kate is an internet enthusiast and still publishes her own web site. In the past, she has been recognised by the Australian Computer Society as the "Most Computer Literate Politician" and in 2001, Kate made the Australian Financial Review's top five Power List in the IT&T industry.

Kate Lundy is a passionate sportswoman, especially rowing and scuba diving.  She is a member and patron of the Canberra Rowing Club, and patron of a number of other sports and charity organisations.

Kate Lundy lives in North Canberra with her husband David.  They have a blended family of five children.

Ian Gilfillan

....sheep farmer, cyclist, runner, coffee drinker, father, grandfather, and
      Australian Democrats Member of the Legislative Council, in the S.A. Parliament

Ian was educated at St Peter's college in Adelaide and divides his time between his Kangaroo Island home, and his Norwood cottage-office, being a part of both communities.  Ian has three married children, and eight grandchildren.

Ian has been a breeder of stud Corriedale sheep, and more recently merinos and in 1975 initiated the Australian Merino Society on K.I.

He enjoys tennis, swimming, running, cycling, reading ....but not gardening or cooking!

Tony Judge

As the acting General Manager of the Business Strategies Branch in NOIE, Tony Judge and his team are responsible for collaboration across Australian Government agencies and some cross jurisdictional areas in the effective use of ICT within government.  Some of his specific priority areas are:

  • Interoperability and collaborative government;
  • e-procurement; and
  • Whole of Government agreements

NOIE has a number of projects underway to improve interoperability across systems within Government and with the private sector.

Prior to joining NOIE, Tony worked in a variety of roles in the Commonwealth Health Sector.

Roland Slee

Roland Slee has worked with Oracle Corporation for more than eleven years holding positions in consulting, sales and management in the UK and Australia.  In June 2002 he was appointed Director, Business and Technology Solutions for Oracle Corporation Australia.  In this role he has responsibility for promoting all of Oracle's software products across Australia and New Zealand, including the Oracle10g technology products, the Oracle11i E-Business Suite and the Oracle Collaboration Suite.

Roland is the key spokesperson covering Oracle's software products and product strategy.  He is frequently quoted in the information technology and business media.  He is an entertaining and informative speaker who regularly addresses audiences across the country.  In addition to his work at Oracle, Roland is also a director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information which has been established under the Federal Government's CRC programme.

After working with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in Australia, Belgium and the UK Roland joined Oracle's Financial Services Industry team in London in 1993.  From 1995 to 2000 he managed Oracle's relationship with a number of financial services clients including the National Westminster Bank in London and Westpac in Sydney.  In 2001 Roland was appointed Director Internet Technologies with responsibility for Oracle's technology products across Australia.  Eighteen months later the rest of Oracle's products were added to his portfolio.

In his spare time Roland is a keen motor racer, downhill skier, singer and dance instructor.  He performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.  He is actively involved in leading and teaching at St Thomas Anglican Church North Sydney.

Andrew Southcott

I was first elected to represent the people of Boothby in March 1996 and have been proud to have been re-elected in October 1998 and again in November 2001.

I have lived and worked in Adelaide's southern suburbs for most of my life.  I grew up at Somerton Park and my schooling began at Paringa Park Primary School at North Brighton, before moving to St Peter's College.  I studied Medicine at the University of Adelaide from 1985 to 1990.

In 1989, I became President of the Adelaide Medical Students Society.  During late 1989 - early 1990, I worked as a volunteer in a mission hospital in Kwazulu/ Natal in South Africa.

I completed my internship at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1991 and undertook basic surgical training there in 1992 and 1993.  In 1994, I was a surgical registrar in vascular surgery at the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park and a surgical registrar at the Breast Cancer Unit at Flinders Medical Centre.

In 1989, I joined the Liberal Party, and in November 1994, was endorsed as the Liberal candidate for Boothby.

As a candidate, I continued to work in the medical field as a locum medical practitioner and a medical officer in Accident and Emergency at Flinders Medical Centre.

I completed an Economics degree at Flinders University, undertaking subjects in economics as well as international relations and Australian history.  More recently, I completed an MBA at the University of Adelaide.

My education in the medical, economics and foreign affairs fields are being put to good use in a practical sense in Parliament.  Currently, I am Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Ageing.  I am also serving on the following Committees:

  • Health and Ageing Government Policy Committee
  • Economics, Finance and Public Administration Standing Committee
  • Treasury, Finance, Public Administration, Financial Services and Regulation Government Policy Committee
  • Trade and Foreign Affairs Government Government Policy Committee
  • Chair of the Australia-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Group
  • Consultative Council for the Centre for Democratic Institutions

I was previously Chair of the Health and Aged Care Government Policy Committee.

On a personal front, I am pleased to announce that my wife, Kate, and I are expecting our second child in January 2004.  Our son, Henry, is looking forward to a new playmate!

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