Friday, November 17, 2006

PSIA Opposes HOUSE BILL NO. 5769, the Free Open Source Software Act of 2006

Below is PSIA's position paper on HOUSE BILL NO. 5769, the Free Open Source Software Act of 2006.

As the representative organization of the Philippine software industry, the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) strongly opposes HOUSE BILL NO. 5769, the Free Open Source Software Act of 2006, as sponsored by House Representative Teodoro Casino.

As an industry association, we encourage the fostering of forward-thinking, innovation and creativity – necessary characteristics of a healthy software industry and essential pillars of the FLY HIGH 2010 software industry targets. This runs counter to the promotion of one technology platform or business model over another.

The companies comprising the Philippine software industry employ a diverse range of technology platforms – using both open source and proprietary software – running the entire gamut of functionalities and price-points. We believe that both users and developers of software should have the freedom of choice as to which technology can best address their unique business needs and requirements. In this sense, technology is only a tool and not an end in itself. As anyone running a business will attest, the point is never the tool itself but the business requirement it seeks to address.

To mandate the use of one technology platform over all others, without consideration of what best serves a specific business requirement, is short-sighted, myopic and a disservice to both users and developers of software – as well as to the Filipino people, whose best interests are compromised by limiting the technology options from which to choose to serve their requirements.

If government’s aim is to optimize the use of technology in the exercise of its agencies’ obligations to the public, then this objective is best met by observing the following:
  1. Government needs to spend more time defining its information system requirements and the evaluation criteria which will determine which solution and technology platform can best serve such requirements.
  2. Government’s procurement processes must be examined and modified to ensure a fair, transparent and rational technology selection process. This will lead to healthy competition among providers ensuring that government is able to choose the best and most appropriate solutions to meet its requirements.
  3. Government has no business or expertise mandating the use of one technology platform over the other. Government’s role is to partner with the private sector in providing the environment and business framework in which innovation, creativity and freedom of informed choice can thrive, especially in the area of technology which is characterized by dynamism and disruptive change.

Separately, the government should consider the role of the Philippine software industry as a generator of revenue and employment for the country. In 2005 alone, PSIA member firms accounted for over $200 million in earnings and 14,000 in employment. Our targets are to increase these numbers to $1 billion and 100,000 respectively by 2010. However, our achievement of these targets will be a function of our ability to offer the global market diverse, flexible and scaleable skill sets across various technology platforms. HOUSE BILL 5769 compromises this ability in several ways. Among them are:

  1. As a major user of IT, government has the opportunity, some will say – the responsibility, to jump start the creation of industry skills across these various platforms . By limiting government agencies to a technology platform, government prevents a level playing field in which various technology providers can compete and establish an experience and revenue base in the domestic market.
  2. As a supposed enabler of the local software industry, one of government’s roles should be to collaborate with the private sector and academe in ensuring that our educational institutions are able to prepare our graduates with the correct skill sets required by the market. In this context, imposing restrictions on what kind of training can be offered defies all logic and reason.

We urge the proponents of HOUSE BILL NO. 5769 to step back and reconsider the implications of their proposal. We should focus on common interests and not positions. Mandating a technology platform over all others is a position. Ensuring that government agencies and the Filipino people are able to optimize their technology choices in is an interest we all share.



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