Citizens ask e-government project to use open source and standards

Two hundred Romanians have signed a petition urging Gabriel Sandu, the Minister for Communications and Information Society, to support open source software on e-government projects. They also ask him to use open standards and to make government data public electronically.

The petition was organised by APTI, a Romanian Association for Technology and Internet. It was organised on-line regarding the eRomânia project, a 500 million euro project proposal to make government services and information available electronically. The project has been discussed for the past few years, and minister Sandu is one of its supporters.

Its services would allow companies and citizens to file taxes on-line, and to for instance request and renew licences. Other projects are meant to promote tourism.

In its public letter, APTI writes it prefers the large-scale eRomânia project to a series of uncoordinated e-government projects that might keep Romania’s public administrations interoperable.

However, APTI asks minister Sandu to make sure that any applications that are written for eRomânia will work equally well on any computer operating system. “And all web applications should be developed using only open standards so they work equally well in any browser.”

“All applications funded by public money should be accessible to every citizen, without being forced to use proprietary software or to acquire additional services.”

APTI writes it wants the eRomânia project to use and re-use existing applications and content already public available under open licences. “The government should prefer to using data and software available under a public licence.” This will avoid duplicating efforts, says the group, and will speed-up the development of the e-government services.

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According to the group, Sandu’s projects risk wasting money by duplicating efforts undertaken by other Romanian public administrations. “Romania already has four databases offering government data, funded by The House of Deputies, by the Monitorul Oficial, by the Legislative Council and by the Ministry of Justice.”

The group wants the minister to making publicly available all computer applications financed by public funds. “Collect and maintain these on a specialised development website, using open source licenses, like on the OSOR.eu”, APTI writes.

The association also wants minister Sandu to make text, images, documents and other data available to all in an open standard format so they can be used by others. Referring to the United Kingdom, where the government recently announced it will make its data available on-line, APT writes: “Likewise, Romania’s private sector and any interested citizen should be able to use government data. Romania may not be rich enough to get Sir Tim Berners-Lee to assist the government on this, but we are intelligent enough to use his advice.” source.

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