World Bank Global Dialogue Event: Open Systems for e-Government

Today in Washington DC from 9:00 – 11.30 am /EST the World Bank’s e-Development Thematic Group invites all interested dgCommunities members to participate by means of live webcast, via videoconference or in person to “Open Systems for e-Government in Developing and Transition Countries: Open Source, Open Standards and Open Format“.


Piper Cole, Vice President, Global Public Policy & Government Affairs,

Sun Microsystems (slides)

John M. Weathersby, Jr, Executive Director, Open Source Software Institute (slides)

Stuart McKee , National Technology Officer, U.S Public Sector,

Microsoft Corporation

Marino Marcich , Managing Director, OpenDocument Format Alliance (slides)


David Satola, Senior Counsel, Legal Department, World Bank

Jeff Kaplan, Founder & Director, Open ePolicy Group, Center for Internet & Society,

Stanford Law School

Andy Stein, Director of Information Technology, City of Newport News, Virginia (slides)

e-TG Co-Chair

Bruno Lanvin, Senior Advisor, GICT, World Bank

Event Chair

Randeep Sudan, Senior ICT Specialist, CITPO, GICT, World Bank

Program Description

While open source software has achieved growing acceptance in the marketplace, open standards are also increasingly seen as key enablers of the transfer and use of information across organizations, systems, and devices. Now an open standard for document formats, ODF, has emerged that promises to deliver greater access, choice and innovation among office suites.

This seminar focuses on the embrace of “open” information and communications technology systems by governments and businesses alike in the face of growing demands for the effective, customer-centric delivery of services. What does “open” mean in the context of software, standards, and document formats, and is it relevant to the experience and challenges faced by developing and transition countries? Can open source, open standards, and ODF be leveraged to maximize the impact of ICT investments in public-sector reform and modernization efforts? How should the World Bank approach ICT “openness” in its operations?

Open source and open standards are frequently confused. Open source is a type of software defined by its collaborative development, accessibility of code and distribution model. Thousands of software developers will collaborate in communities to share knowledge and create technology for the common good. This model has proven adept at driving competition, lowering prices, and forcing market leaders to innovate, clone, or find new businesses.

Open standards are the “beams and mortar” that allow different systems, platforms, and devices to communicate, and are at the very core of the new “open” architectures. Like open source, open standards result from a collaborative process where no one individual or entity controls the standard, and are available to all generally free of cost with no royalty or fee. Vendors may create either open source or proprietary software conforming to an open standard. Open standards provide choice and interoperability between systems. The Internet, based largely on the framework of the TCP/IP and HTML standards, is a strong example of open standards-driven innovation. ODF is an example of an open standard. ODF is an XML-based document file format for displaying, storing and editing office documents, such as spreadsheets, charts, and presentations. In May 2006, it was approved unanimously as an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard. As an XML-based standard, it addresses the need for the data in documents to be created and exchanged on different platforms and systems. A growing number of governments across the globe are making policy decisions to move to ODF. A variety of applications are in the market today supporting ODF. A complete list can be found at:

The motivations behind the move to openness vary. For some it is economic (efficiency, innovation, growth), while for others it is social development or political. Our speakers will examine the relevance and promise of “open ICT” to developing and transition countries.

About the World Bank e-Development Thematic Group

The e-Development Thematic Group’s mission is to promote the efficient use of ICT in development and World Bank operations by facilitating knowledge sharing on good practices in e-development, and more frequent dialogue among interested parties thus catalyzing specific program and project proposals. The e-Development Thematic Group was created in 2003 in response to the increasing demand from various countries and sectors that are involved in the design and implementation of a variety of e-development and e-government projects, on the basis of the e-Government Thematic Group. The e-Development Thematic Group is open for participation by both World Bank staff and external clients and partners.

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