The Inquiry was designed to look at and report back to the Victorian Parliament on the potential application of open content and open source licensing to Victorian Government information, particularly considering the economic benefits, improvements to discovery and use of data, the ICT requirements and potential risks, impediments and restrictions.
With 46 recommendations, the report is quite a hefty read (238 pages) - however there are three key recommendations the report highlights, which I hope are both adopted by the Victorian Government and considered by other governments across Australia.
- develop a framework for free or low cost access to all possible public sector information,
- that the government use the Creative Commons licensing model for most (around 85%) of public sector information, tapping into a simple to understand and widely used system - with the remaining 15% subject to appropriate licensing based on the need for restricted access, and
- that the Victorian government develop a central directory enabling easier discovery of public sector information and the access conditions attached to it.
A fourth recommendation is also worth noting, to quote,
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.This recommendation will help level the playing field for open source software in government. While open source is already widely used in the public sector, the lack of a responsible single vendor has sometimes raised the perceived risk of open source. Also often software has been selected on the basis of initial purchase/implementation costs rather than on the total cost of ownership, which can be manipulated by vendors of proprietary software to encourage very low-cost take-up of products but with expensive ongoing maintenance and development.
The next step is for the Victorian government to consider and adopt some, all or none of the 46 recommendations - the first of which is,
Recommendation 1: That the Victorian Government release a public statement indicating that it endorses open access as the default position for the management of its public sector information.Recommendation 39 is also very interesting from a national perspective,
Recommendation 39: That the Victorian Government work with other jurisdictions towards national harmonisation in enhancing access to and reuse of PSI.
Many in the government 2.0 community will be waiting with bated breath.