Open Government Equals Open Choice

By Teresa Carlson, Microsoft Vice President of U.S. Federal Government Sales

Every time I talk to a client or read the paper, I am reminded that the wheels are in motion for making our President’s vision of an open government a reality. The impetus behind this is the billions of dollars being rolled out to drive economic growth, coupled with the Administration’s requirement that agencies are transparent, collaborative and participatory with other government agencies and American citizens.

Technology will be a core enabler for this new environment as agencies are looking for ways to manage stimulus dollars and communicate how they are being spent. As our work environments have become more and more reliant on computer systems that communicate, collaborate and share data, the expectations are there that agencies will do the same.

I believe we need to keep top-of-mind that the “average” American who uses the Internet as a tool and is probably expecting transparency to be similar to the social networking capabilities they already experience. Need to find data from an agency quickly? Check. Need tools to help understand the data? Check. Need to communicate with the agency providing the data? Check. Want a response from the agency? Check.

To get to that Gov 2.0 environment, interoperability is the key. Here is what this new environment means to me and my team:

· Collaboration: We’re working with others to drive more interoperability and create opportunities for developers and customers. We do this through partnerships with individual companies such as EMC, IBM, Novell, SAP, Sun and many others; participation in collaborative industry groups like the Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA); and active collaboration with the open source community.

· Choice: Government agencies are looking for us to deliver business value and choice in a mixed-source world. They want the option to pick the best tools to get the job done regardless of platform.

· Access: We’re providing access to our IP through activities such as our technical licensing program, interoperability labs, community support forums and the publishing of more than 50,000 pages of technical protocol documentation, creating more opportunities for people to develop products that complement, and even compete with, Microsoft solutions. All this leads to greater innovation and choice for customers as well as the opportunity to derive even more value from the Microsoft products customers already use.

· Standards: We’re participating in the process to help create useful, open IT industry standards. Our products support a long list of standards, allowing them to interoperate with other products that also implement those standards. Microsoft works jointly with other industry players to specify new standards that can help resolve the big interoperability issues facing enterprise customers.

· Products: We’re creating our products to deliver more and more ready-built bridges between Microsoft applications and other software, including open source applications. This allows customers to take advantage of relatively inexpensive and easy to manage technologies that enable platform and solution interoperability without the prohibitive costs and timelines associated with consulting-heavy solutions.

We are committed to increasing interoperability to enable agencies to create value from the technology choices available to them. Our focus is on championing choice and openness, and building bridges between our technologies and other software providers.

We will continue to work actively with others in the industry, including thousands of local partners, commercial competitors, and open source communities, to help government organizations reach their goals, increase efficiency, enhance transparency and deliver the public services that citizens expect and demand.

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