Thursday Jan 29, 2009

Open Source, Open CTO, Open Government

Last week, BBC News reported that Scott McNealy, Chairman of Sun Microsystems, has been asked to prepare a paper for the new administration on the subject of how open source software can benefit government.   Commenting on this subject, Scott said:

"It's intuitively obvious open source is more cost effective and productive than proprietary software. Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle or any proprietary vendor any money."

It will be interesting to read Scott's paper when it become available.  I would be delighted to find that our government would adopt practices that actually saved our precious tax money.

I also applaud Scott's comments about a suggested new cabinet-level post of Chief Technology Officer.  He said that new CTO should:

"Have veto power, the right to eliminate any hardware, software or networking product that touches the federal network. He or she would have real power, real oversight and employ real consequences for folk that don't realign with the architecture. It's what every business does that the government doesn't."

If such a CTO were appointed to lead the implementation of President Obama's "open" technology policy, we could call him or her the "Open CTO."

We at Sun often talk about how leading companies use information technology as a strategic weapon to gain competitive advantage.  President Obama certainly demonstrated the effectiveness of web technology as a competive weapon in his campaign. 

I think we should consider information technology to be a weapon for the American people to improve government.  It can help slash through the impermeable curtains of back-room dealmaking and obfuscating "spin" wherein political insiders try to deceive the public as they push their own agendas.   For example, having access on the web to emerging details of the "stimulus package" enabled each of us to evaluate its worth on its actual merits, rather than having selected information sifted through levels of political commentary before it reached us.

Information technology can make government more accessible, transparent and responsive for us citizens whom the government is supposed to serve.  Open source and and "Open CTO" could be two effective arrows in our arsenal to return the power government to the hands of the people.

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Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

What do YOU think about Digital Identity in Open Government?

Yesterday, I blogged about an Open Government Workshop to be held at MIT on January 15th to address the role of Digital Identity in modern government.   You can participate in framing the discussion by participating in this online forum.  Please take a few minutes to read questions others have submitted and vote on which topics you think are most relevant.
Here are the five questions I submitted:
  • How can personal Digital Identity attributes be leveraged to personalize the interaction a citizen has with a government agency while protecting confidential citizen information?
  • How can Digital Identity be leveraged to effectively enable citizen/government interaction without using a National ID card system?
  • How can static Digital Identity attributes (e.g. name, age) be combined or blended with contextual attributes (e.g. location, current interest) to enrich citizen/government interaction without compromising confidential information?
  • How can confidential Digital Identity attributes provided by a citizen to one organization or agency be effectively used for an overall citizen/government experience without divulging that information to other organizations?
  • Are there ways Digital Identity systems employed by private enterprise be leveraged to provide e-government authentication and authorization services?
What are yours?

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Tuesday Jan 06, 2009

The Role of Digital Identity in Open Government

An Open Government Workshop to be held at MIT on January 15th,  will address the role of Digital Identity as a key enabler for effective interaction between citizens and government leaders. 

This workshop is being organized by Dazza Greenwood of on behalf of the MIT eCitizen Architecture Program, the MIT Media Lab SmartCities Group and the eCitizen Foundation.

The Digital Identity part of the workshop is being directed by Bruce Bakis of Mitre Corporation, Team Leader of the Safeguarding Digital Identity research project for the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection.  In an invitation to Identity Management community, Bruce stated:
"Several goals in the Obama-Biden technology agenda articulated at fit right into our Digital Identity wheelhouse. Two of these really hit our sweet spot: Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy, and Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems.

"So, here’s what we’re doing: holding several virtual events and one “real” one to compile and present to the Obama-Biden administration a prioritized list of issues, problems and questions.  During the “real” event we will hold three interrelated discussions:
  • The use of Digital Identity as a key enabler (for the other two agenda items and so much more)
  • How to Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy that’s open, effective, privacy preserving and secure;
  • How to Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems."
You can register here for participation in the January 15th event.  You can participate in formulation of the dialogue that will occur at the main event by using this online forum to submit and rank questions to be addressed during the event.

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Discovering Identity was founded on in May 2005 as a means of documenting my exploration of the field of Identity and Access Management. In February, 2010, I switched to hosting the blog at In March 2012, I began posting Oracle-related information in both places.

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