I have a history of campaigns to "make the world a better place" I thought I had grown out of it. Turns out, no.
Open source software is what i do.
To hide it is nice, there is money there, just ask Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.
So whats the plan?
I wish to start 4 pilot projects with 4 local authorites each (the 4x4 pilots):
A pilot project will identify a group of sponsoring local authorites or bodies, about 3-5 per project. These will ask for and support a domain expert in for example, Building and Planning applications. This will be the internal user - guiding and defining the shape of the project so that it is useful inside the public body. (We want to ensure the project is useful to the end user, but it also needs to fit the needs of the public body else it will become yet another piece of shelfware)
The campaign shall ask for and co-ordinate project mentors, 2 per project, who will be Open Source Contributors in good standing. They will work with the domain expert to guide them and help them in working with the developers. They will also hold an oversight role - to help ensure the development keeps with the government open source principles and guidance. Mentors are not expected to have a technical or development role, and conflicts of interest are expected to be handled well.
The development will be volunteer or commercially funded - but will follow the principles of the project and be fully compliant with GPL (essentially limiting us to MIT 2/3 and GPL licenses).
This all sounds a bit convuluted?
Yes. There is a perception - which may or may not be true, that getting an open source development team past the tender process and solving real problems is ... well, as rare as teeth the hen pulled herself because tooth fairy upped the rates due to inflation.
Possibly the best example by exception is the excellent team that has worked on and built gov.uk. Quick, name another government software project that is open sourced, successful and not one of the big five. That hen will get a surprise under her pillow.
So, we are doing our best to avoid the potholes on that road.
We are building a MVP before entering the tender process.
We are supporting the project through lower cost SaaS approach and doing so through the government supported G-Cloud
We are cutting the tender process to its minimum by using G-Cloud - where commercial Open Source suppliers will agree to support the projects as SaaS while the development teams continuously improve the work.
We expect to follow the Open standard laid out by GDS, most especially to comply with identity standards. A common authentication and authorisation layer seems an eminently sensible idea.