Should Our Government Go For FOSS?

This afternoon, I attended a round table discussion (RTD) on “Should Our Government Go For FOSS?” at the Speaker’s Conference Room in the House of Representatives, Batasan Complex, Quezon City. FOSS means Free and Open Source Software and the RTD is part of the 3rd House of Representatives FOSS Week, an event organized by the Office of Bayan Muna Party-List Congressman Teddy A. Casiño in order to create awareness among lawmakers on the use of FOSS for governance. The RTD was attended by representatives of public and private entities with stakes on migration to FOSS from commercial proprietary software.

The RTD started with a presentation defining FOSS to mean “free as in free speech not free beer” which simply says that those who will adopt and/or use the platform will have the right to modify the software to suit their requirements. Comparative studies on systems using proprietary software versus FOSS show significant cost advantages of the latter over the former platform. Other resource parties presented their actual experiences in the use and development of FOSS systems.

In the open discussions that followed the short presentations, RTD participants were unanimous in their positive reply to the main topic of the discussion. Everybody said our government should follow the models of European countries and go for FOSS. While the benefits of using FOSS, especially at this time when most government agencies scrimp on their capital and operating expenses, far outweigh the use of proprietary software, the human nature of resisting change was mentioned to be the major obstacle in the adoption of FOSS for governance.