Sunday, July 10, 2005

Some IT Questions for Govt

Someone asked me recently what pointed questions I'd ask the Government about IT and Communications if I had the chance. So, I'm using this post to scratch out some ideas, and solicit any others from those reading.

  • The decision a year ago not to unbundle the local loop has proved ineffective at reducing the countries reliance on one DSL vendor as was evidenced in the recent Telecom fibre failures. With UBS, all retailers are affected if the sole wholesaler fails. What will you consider doing to ensure this doesn't happen in the future? Will you consider unbundling the local loop to create a more resilient national telecommunications infrastructure by creating an environment that is more conducive to investing in communications infrastructure?
  • How much money does the New Zealand Government pay to Microsoft every year as part of the G licences? (G2000, G2003, G2006)? It is my understanding that contractual arrangements within the undisclosed Microsoft Government Licence completely restrict the products and services that some New Zealand vendors are trying to provide to the New Zealand Government. Is the Government aware that the licence it has signed is preventing New Zealand business doing business with the Government, to the benefit of an American company?
  • To the State Service Commission's credit, they have recognised that it is fast becoming untenable to store the nations documents in proprietary document formats. In May, the new OASIS open document standards were approved providing an alternative, and increasingly supported, document format. What is the Government doing to ensure that they use open and unencumbered electronic document formats?
  • The market for open source software has grown significantly in recent years. How much money does the Government contribute to Open Source projects in New Zealand annually? Are there plans to increase this amount in the future?
  • Project Probe, whilst technically being able to deliver broadband to remote communities, is proving to be financially unsustainable for schools because of ongoing operational costs - particularly bandwidth. What is going to be done to ensure that bandwidth costs are reduced to make the services viable?
  • Cheap broadband within New Zealand has the potential to reduce the costs of doing business, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by enabling some forms of travel to be replaced by voice and video-conferencing via IP. Yet Telecom is resisting introducing pricing plans that will provide realistic options for utilising these IP applications - in particular businesses need some way of limiting costs on national IP traffic. What does the Government propose to ensure that IP bandwidth is made available to consumers and business at truely affordable and practical plans to encourage adoption of these new applications?
  • Given that core key applications (internet, email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software etc) can be provided on a wide range of platforms, including open source platforms using software such as Linux and OpenOffice.org, what is stopping the adoption of such a platform for certain applications within Government organisations? If the Microsoft Government Licence is holding back adoption of certain types of software, is the expense of the licence truely worth the restrictions that come with it?

Thats it for now, I'll post back some more when they come to mind.

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