Big Apple Considers Taking Bite from Open Source

May 2, 2003

Brian Proffitt

While Oregon, Texas, and Oklahoma hash out their policies on open-source software procurement, the City of New York is quietly progressing on its own fact-finding mission on the advantages and disadvantages of open source, LinuxToday reported on Wednesday.

Tuesday morning, the Select Committee on Technology in Government for the New York City Council led a meeting on "Oversight - An Examination of Municipal Policies on Open Source Software Procurement." The meeting, chaired by New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, sought to address the question on what, if any, legislation might be needed regarding the purchase of open-source software by the city.

No legislation has yet to come up regarding this issue, and Council staff members were quick to point out that "there is still a lot of fact finding to do." But the meeting did fall into a mirror of the debates currently going on in the Oregon State House regarding that state's proposed open-source legislation. The NYC debates, however, were described as "polarizing" by participants, but not rancorous.

The proposed legislation in Oregon would, if passed, stipulate that any software procurement process in that state would also have to include bids from open-source software projects. Brewer's committee is taking the first steps towards exploring whether such an option would be feasible for New York City.

If the goal of the meeting was fact finding, that goal was certainly reached, according one of the private citizens who helped the Committee organize the event. Bruce Bernstein, President of the New York Software Industry Association, said that the debate in the meeting drew down to the two sides that are present within his own organization. NYSIA, Bernstein said, considers itself netral in this debate, because among its membership there are pro-open source and pro-proprietary camps.

NYSIA assisted the Committee in gathering particpiants for Tuesday's meeting. "We thought it was good that all of these issues were aired," Bernstein said.


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