[kwlug-disc] Fwd: Canadian Gov RFI on FOSS

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Thu Feb 5 20:39:40 EST 2009

Paul Nijjar wrote, On 02/05/2009 3:53 PM:
> --- On Thu, 2/5/09, Raul Suarez <rarsa at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> The main question is: Should ethics be left out? Should it
>> be just a pragmatic response or also a philosophically one?
> I think the two are linked, personally. It is possible to highlight
> pragmatic advantages (e.g. being able to customize code and write
> custom plugins) and then explain how the philosophical licencing
> permits those pragmatic advantages.

Depends. I agree its confusing. I would suggest anyone who responds be 
a government procurement expert.

Why I say it depends, and what it doesn't say, is how does the 
government work? In this case:

(a) Is this a procurement RFI only? [Questions at bottom would seem to 
say this is an information gathering initiative.] If it's procurement 
only, anything that doesn't address costs or risk would presumably be 
ignored. i.e. The blessing that something can be purchased may be 
separate from the acquisition / payment process itself.

(b) What is the nature of internal I.T. Departments? I suspect, but 
have absolutely no knowledge, that internal support will be for 
(internal) _deployment_ only. I don't guess it's for bug fixing 
(passed off to vendor), therefore customized code and plugin support 
is irrelevant, or usage problem reporting. i.e. Where's my diskette 
drive - yes, internally answered. When I click this I don't get my 
chart - no, not internally answered.

(c) Let alone, do they train internally? Is there training? i.e. If 
the only help is a sourceforge web page, will that fly?

> However, I am a bit confused. People are talking about writing
> comments. But is it not the case that only companies and organizations
> that produce free software are supposed to participate?

The top would seem to suggest that, but the questions seem to be of an 
investigatory or exploratory nature that suggests anyone could submit.

As they point out, it's an RFI, not an RFQ.

In some ways, I pity the people who have to chew through the responses.

I found the bit about passing all responses to all respondees, and 
marking anything confidential that should be, interesting.

> 0. I am not actively contributing code to any free software projects.
> Am I prohibited from participating?
> 1. Raul writes code for Puppy Linux, which is not based in Canada. He
> does so on a volunteer basis. Is he prohibited?
> 2. CLUE is an advocacy group for FLOSS that does not (as far as I
> know) produce software. Is it prohibited?

I would hope CLUE, and EFF, would respond. Although, perhaps, only 
agencies at that level. People like NetDirect should too, but I won't 
be surprised if they don't. It takes $$$ to respond to these sorts of 
things, substantively, and it's all been heard before. Bears 
repeating, but ain't cheap to do.

Seemed to me the questions on support costs, support contracts, vendor 
risk / pass thru, etc., to be invitations to Microsoft to blow FOSS 
out of the water. No doubt they will (try). Particularly the idea that 
there's no one entity to pin to the floor if there's problems.

Hopefully CLUE, EFF, and the like will respond, to obliterate Microsoft.

To my mind many of the questions depend upon how they work. If they 
have an internal development department, then things like code 
modification would be very important. If they have internal support, 
then they can read the (support) web pages and interpret - the users, 
in general, won't.

Pity the poor slob (employee) who comes across a nifty / really useful 
to them program on the internet and attempts to download it. The 
vetting process looks tiresome.

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