Thursday, January 22, 2009

Canadian Government RFI on Open Source Software

The Canadian government has an RFI concerning Free and Open Source Software ("No Charge Licensed Software"):
This is not a bid solicitation. Canada is seeking feedback from the Industry with respect to No Charge Licensed Software....

Canada has a Request for Information (RFI) related to No-Charge Licensed Software (typically referred to as Free and Open Source Software or FOSS and also applicable to freeware)....

The purpose of the RFI is to help the Government of Canada (GC) put together guidelines related to the planning, acquisition, use and disposal of No Charge Licensed Software (NCLS). While there is already significant interest for No Charge Licensed Software within the Government of Canada there are many questions being asked, see below. There exists operationally a requirement to produce common guidelines that are fair, open and transparent and can be applied consistently across departments....

  1. In the Overview, the Crown provided a definition for No Charge Licensed Software. Is this an appropriate definition?
  2. What are reasonable criteria that the Crown should consider in a decision process for acquiring No Charge Licensed Software? Are there circumstances in which the acquisition of No Charge Licensed Software would not be advisable?
  3. How should existing Government Furnished Equipment, Services, Service Level Agreements and internal resources be considered when evaluating the usage of No Charge Licensed Software?
  4. How practical is No Charge Licensed Software? Are there hidden costs that need to be considered as part of the process of evaluating the alternatives available?
  5. Are the general financial, technical and security risks associated with acquiring and using No Charge Licensed Software?
  6. Do Open Standards and interoperability factor into evaluation considerations?
  7. Does the technology factor into the evaluation consideration, such as ability to maintain and evergreen?
  8. Does the Crown evaluate the flexibility of the licensing models for No Charge Licensed Software?
  9. What impact will No Charge Licensed Software have on Government Licensed End-User Networks (
The following are the criteria described in the RFI that would be used in acquiring of Open Source Software:
  1. Architectural Review and Approval: This involves the applicable Enterprise Architecture group reviewing the product to ensure that it:
    • Is appropriate for the use specified in the request
    • Works well within the technical environment
    • Does not violate or overlap with any existing standards

  2. Financial Risk Assessment: Per Treasury Board Secretariat direction, the use of No Charge Software (particularly Free and Open Source Software) requires the completion of a financial risk assessment. The financial risk assessment must consider the risk exposure per year against the financial benefit. Depending on the level of risk involved, approval of the risk assessment will be required by:
    • The applicable Senior Financial Officer or delegate - for substantive risk
    • The business owner of the impacted or system - where risk is non-substantive

  3. Justification of No Charge Acquisition - A Procurement Officer must review the justification for acquisition of No Charge Software, for clarification and as due diligence for the validity of reasons and that they will stand possible future scrutiny.

  4. Investigation of Security Risks - Given the potentially heightened security risk of downloadable No Charge Software, the appropriate IT Security Officer must investigate and approve No Charge Software before it is approved for use. In particular, the security assessment will assure that the product does not contain viruses, malware or other means for an attacker to compromise the GC or departmental environment.

  5. Software License Review - Due to the diverse nature of licence models associated with No Charge Software, a review must be conducted to identify potential legal/policy impediments for the GC in agreeing to a particular licence agreement. The intent is to accumulate a list of acceptable licences (including popular ones such as GPL, LGPL, Apache etc.) so that a particular license model would only have to be examined once across the entire GC.
I would encourage those in the Open Source community and industry to participate in this interesting RFI.

Thanks to Russell McOrmond for pointing this out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Presentation: Tom Brzustowski: Suggestive Patterns in Canadian Industrial R&D Spending

Tom Brzustowski (ex-NSERC president, now University of Ottawa RBC Financial Group Professor in the Commercialization of Innovation and Chair of the board Institute for Quantum Computing, Waterloo) is giving a talk this Friday January 16 entitled "Looking for Suggestive Patterns in Canadian Industrial R&D Spending".

R&D spending is an imperfect, but widely used, measure of innovation. This paper describes the search for suggestive patterns in Canadian industrial R&D spending, as reported in the data published annually by Re$earch Infosource Inc. A very important feature of this proprietary data base is that the companies involved are named, and thus the data can be combined with information from other sources.

The discussion has three parts. The first deals with the "calibration" of the data base, and a discussion of its limitations, beginning with the reporting of R&D spending. The second describes and explains the performance of a number of selected corporations, expressed in terms of their revenues, R&D spending, and the R&D intensity (RDI), shown as time series for 1999 - 2006, and extending to 2007 in some cases. The selection of companies is made to illustrate typical behaviour and also to reveal and explain some unexpected patterns. The RDI is the percentage of revenues spent on innovation. It is useful independently of its components, because it has been linked to the time dimension or "velocity" in business, in this case the frequency of innovation.

The final part deals with sector-wide patterns that suggest the way in which public policies and support for industrial R&D might be tailored to fit better with the different rhythms of R&D in different businesses.

Related Zzzoot posts:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Letter to the Editor: Librarians and Tech Officials Must Get Along to Meet Future Challenges"

From a letter in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Wired Campus, in response to a Tech Therapy podcast: "Episode 33: Libraries vs. IT Departments":
Our experience at Indiana University shows that librarians and IT departments cannot only coexist, and do it successfully, but also that we must become assertive partners in order to achieve the results our users now expect. It’s time to move beyond the rift that apparently separates many libraries and IT departments. None of the compelling issues facing academic libraries today can be accomplished without strong support from IT departments. Among them: establishing robust institutional repositories; supporting e-science and data curation services; providing metadata and e-text consultation; growing a virtual reference community; and developing course management systems. The list goes on.