Patrick Callioni, division manager at the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), took issue today with comments by Red Hat Asia Pacific vice president Gus Robertson that agencies were up to three years behind their overseas counterparts in embracing open-source software.
"So what?," Callioni said. "It could be that governments have been slow because it might not have been the right thing to do," he told participants at the Australian Unix User Group's Open Computing in Government conference in Canberra.
"Don't judge the government on whether it uses more or less of something," he advised the company, "judge it on the value of the services it provides."
Callioni also took aim at the effectiveness of legislation mooted in jurisdictions such as South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory to mandate the consideration of OSS by government agencies.
"I would challenge governments that have enacted legislation to show any impact of that legislation," he said.
He said Australia had a shortfall of people with the capability of supporting commercial implementations of OSS.
There were only 300 to 400 small to medium enterprises in Australia that specialise in OSS, Callioni claimed. Of these, over 90 percent had less than five staff, some had around 30 employees, and few had more than 100 workers, he added.
Callioni told the audience that these companies made up a relatively small domestic industry, although it was considerably fluid and flexible.