CIO Straight Talk - Issue 3 - 32
“OPEN SOURCE FIRST”
Cost is a huge consideration in a state that doesn’t have an income tax or a broad-based sales tax, and that was one of the
drivers behind New Hampshire’s “open source ﬁrst” law. This law requires that state agencies consider the use of open
source before buying new commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, software. This doesn’t mean that we are going to replace our
ERP system or our Oracle database or our GIS systems. It means that when new requirements come up, we are going to
consider open source ﬁrst. This may not save us a lot today, but we believe it will over time.
The law also requires the open-data format. That doesn’t mean that we can’t use a COTS product, but we do have to save
the material or make it available to citizens as an open data format. There are states that have open source policies –
Vermont has a policy. But no one else has a law requiring it. What this really was meant to do was to memorialize the
decision so that 20 years from now, unless the law is changed, New Hampshire will still be required to consider open source.
• To sell new ideas, especially in the public sector,
the CIO must have a clear sense of the
organization’s appetite for change and innovation.
• Gaining buy-in starts with a lot of listening. Find
out what people’s goals and problems are before you
propose any new ideas.
CIO Straight Talk
• The opportunities to do things more eﬃciently
through mobile technology are huge. The hard
part is agreeing what problems to address.
New Hampshire is the ﬁrst American state to mandate that
state agencies consider the use of open-source software.
The technology exists today to do all sorts of things better. The hardest part –
and this is true for private enterprise as well as the public sector – is getting to a
clear and commonly agreed upon understanding of the problems the
organization is trying to solve and then ﬁnding the simplest, most effective way
to achieve that. That’s the CIO’s challenge.