Public Administration

  • Last week I attended the Paris Open Source Summit, were I saw things as interesting and diverse as autonomous tractors, Open Source legal support and “degooglized Internet” visions. Please read that other post to know more. Here, I am only going to describe one other moment of POSS 2016, about two other arguments I care a lot about, and on which I wouldn’t mind working again, even if these days I am mostly busy with Digital DIY.
  • Microsoft vs OpenOffice in Pesaro: first, let's recap /img/pesaro-retrocessione.png

    Pesaro is a town of about 100 thousands people on the northern adriatic coast of Italy. Its Public Administration has been facing lots of critics from Free/Open Source software supporters because, in the last five years, it changed twice the same, important part of its ICT infrastructure. Both those changes bring consequences and open issues, both for the critics and for Pesaro, that have had little or no coverage at all so far, especially outside Italy (1). Before talking about them, however, it is necessary to summarize what happened.

    The first move was the migration, in 2010/2011 of 504 desktops from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. The second, decided in November 2014, was a U-turn: sorry, we were wrong, let's migrate to the latest and greatest from Microsoft, that is Office 365, to do lots of things better, even working in teams and online.

  • A couple of weeks ago (1) I attended the Open Days of the 9th European Week of Regions and Cities. Seeing a bit closer how the EU works and interacts with local administrations is good. Together with some depressing situations you also find worthwhile initiatives that almost never make prime time TV. The most interesting things I’ve seen at the 2011 Open Days aren’t directly related to each other, so I’ll report them in several independent posts.
  • (this page is part of my 2011 report on “Open Data: Emerging trends, issues and best practices”. Please follow that link to reach the Introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to also check the notes for readers! of the initial report of the same project, “Open Data, Open Society”) It is undeniable that today, especially at the local level, most Public Administrators that should or may contribute to open the public data held by their organizations still ignore, and sometimes disdain, Open Data proposals, principles and practices.
  • USA federal courts plan to destroy all records on judicial cases that did not go to trial that were filed between 1970 and 1995 and reduce the current retention time for other records from 25 to 15 years. The reason is saving money. Preserving those files cost over $6.2 million last year. The new plan “will help save $7.7 million over the next 10 years”. Of course, this is causing great concern among legal historians and advocates for public access to important information.
  • On March 15, 2011, the VISTO website from the Italian Ministry of Treasury went online. VISTO that may be roughly translated to English as “(have you) SEEN?” is the acronym of “Visualizzazione Interattiva della Stima dei Tempi delle Opere”, which means more or less “Interactive Visualization of Duration Estimates of Public Works”. The portal provides an estimate of how much time passes, on average in each Italian Province, from the moment a tender is approved to the moment when the corresponding public work (roads, health services, whatever) is finished.
  • Please have a look at these pictures, taken in November 2010: The first two show the check-in area of the Emergency Room and, respectively, the counters where citizens can book specialist check-ups of one public hospital in Rome. The third picture is a communication from a public school in Rome that says, more or less: parent candidates for the school board must submit a list with their names using the paper form available in the secretary’s office.
  • What you are about to read is a file that I recently recovered from an old folder I had forgotten. In and by itself, it contains nothing new, only things that I and others (often better than me) have already explained providing plenty of details. The main, if not only interest of the short rant below is the simple fact that almost everything I wrote really looks like as a still accurate and (as of early 2011) just written description of Information Technology inside and for Public Administration.
  • (this page is part of my Open Data, Open Society report. Please follow that link to reach the introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to check the notes to readers!) If we accept that data openness is good, the next question becomes where and how to start opening data. Intervention from above is necessary (see next chapters) in order to make the whole process happen in the fastest and most efficient way.
  • Why data are important

    (this page is part of my Open Data, Open Society report. Please follow that link to reach the introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to check the notes to readers!) First of all, what are data? Borrowing from, and rearranging, a definition attempted by Peter Murray-Rust as summarized on the Digital Curation Blog, by data we mean single pieces of information of every nature (from pictures to numbers, textual definitions, maps, audio…) that: