Transparent Governments With Opaque Software

Most people cringe at the thought of viewing or using government websites. It seems they’re always light years behind the industry in terms of standards and technology. It’s one of the biggest gaps between the private sector and the public sector, but why is this?

Development Time

The difference between commercial websites and public government websites is the restraints on the development of the site. For example; a typical government website in Australia requires several criteria to be met before the project can even be considered:

  • Police checks
  • Accreditation and Certification
  • Registration in various government agencies

This government bureaucracy is one of the biggest barriers in getting systems to the public for testing. By delaying the pipeline of development, the end product is also delayed in it’s evolution.dd

Security Through Obscurity

A common fallacy that most developers know is that hiding the source code, does not ensure good security. It merely delays the time in which a mallicious agent can find exploits in the system.

Governments like to put large restriction on source code for systems, in most cases there’s a lot of red tape involved in fixing a broken on insecure software system.

Open Source Government

Similar to the security over obscurity principle is the perpetual use of closed source code-bases within government systems. By using closed-source software, no one can verify That the system:

  • Functions as expected
  • Has no security vunerabilities
  • Has no malicious functionality

Majority of software produced in the public sector is closed privately maintained.

Ironically, many of the software systems in the private sector are publicly viewable.

The Future Is Open!

However, this closed world of government software currently changing. The open-source movement has picked up pace in the last decade, with the unlikely leader Microsoft being [1]the biggest contributor to opensource development in the world.

The Australian government has initiated a department called the [2]Digital Tansformation Agency, which actively promotes the open-source development of government systems!