PWGSC and the Collaborative Software Engineering (CoSE) Worksite

The following is a local copy of an email sent by Joseph (José) Potvin of GOSLING/GOOSE about the Collaborative Software Engineering (CoSE) Worksite.
Hi Dru, Mit, I've re'titled the subject line for this thread, since it's the mirroring service you're after. I have an answer for you that you might be happy to hear, with the caveat that "were not up and running quite yet".

Please don't interpret the following as a formal announcement since we're still in the planning stages, but I am happy to share information about, and request some open feedback on, an initiative that we're working towards to help operationalize Canadian Government Official Open Source Engagement (Canada GOOSE). This spans across acquisition, use, production and distribution.

First, the policy context: In April 2004 the CIO Branch of Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) requested that PWGSC "develop, manage and operate a GoC software pooling and distribution service". The Policy on Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) encourages partnerships and collaborative arrangements that bring together organizations from across government, between levels of government, or across sectors through partnerships and collaborative arrangements (e.g., single windows, co-locations, or clustering of services) where such arrangements can result in innovative, cost-effective and efficient ways to deliver government programs and services.

With those as a foundation, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is currently working with TBS and several other departments and agencies in planning a Canadian Government "shared service" similar to, or Our's is (tentatively) called the "Collaborative Software Engineering (CoSE) Worksite". We're currently piloting internally with Once CoSE Worksite is in operation, it certainly could, among other things, serve as a mirror for FreeBSD and other open source solutions produced external to the Government of Canada, in which GoC has an interest. The versions we would host might be somewhat behind the latest available, as we are thinking to run a set of reviews. I say that with some hesitation, because an efficient process needs to be defined, or our reviews will be nothing but a bottleneck. Maybe certain structured communities themselves could be certified, such as FreeBSD, which has an excellent review reputation already. Again, suggestions for establishing a "highly trusted mirror service" are welcome. Generally we think GoC needs this to provide civil servants a trusted location from which to download any software (under any license type).

Our service more broadly would include:

1. Development, Maintenance & Repair Management Support Systems

* Structured, collaborative version and configuration management;
* Structured, collaborative issues and options management;
* Structured code, architecture, intellectual asset management;
* Documentation management of technical architecture and developer/user training content (integrated with RDIMS); and,
* Unified security & access management for all project participants, inside and outside GoC.

2. Project Team Management and Reporting Systems

* Collaborative project management;
* Teamware for communication and coordination;
* Structured information for reporting & auditing (financial, management, intellectual, security, quality);
* Referrals to subject matter experts, communities of practice, and service brokers.

CoSE Worksite would be available at no charge to individual software project teams working on solutions "of interest to" the Government of Canada. This language is specifically intended to mean it is not restricted to software projects initiated and managed by Canadian Government departments and agencies. Certainly, GoC software development projects would be hosted here. But other communities may also use the CoSE Worksite for any software project that meets the CoSE Project Acceptance Criteria (still being composed). In some cases, software projects that meet the criteria may already be well supported on other repositories, and the CoSE Worksite may host a referral page. We hope to avoid the limitations that the Government Open Code Collaborative is criticized for: (i.e. "a Cathedral trying to say it's a Bazaar"). Hopefully ours is more like "Public" Works through Government Services Canada, in which "works" are understood as "works of joint authorship" and "collective works" as defined in the Copyright Act

For those of you who might be suspicious of the claim of a free service, please let me explain how we are trying to position the CoSE Worksite Initiative to meet the usual Treasury Board financial management requirement of full cost recovery. We're not sure if we'll be able to do things this way yet. The main idea is that we are arranging to sell the valuable "results" or "outcomes" of greater software collaboration and re-use to a few major stakeholder clients, those organizations that use it the most, and will want a place on the CoSE Steering Committee. That's to say, CoSE "services" are not the "results". The marketable value of the strategic results that are for sale under contract to the major stakeholders, will be increased, the more the online collaborative engineering facility is used. Therefore the basic CoSE Worksite web service is being positioned as a "pure public good". Like sourceforce, tigris and gnu.savannah, all the core services will be available for free.

What's the status? The plan was discussed yesterday at the Open Source Sub-Committee of the Interdepartmental CIO Council chaired by TBS, and also a week earlier with CIO Branch within TBS. It's getting a great reception, and there are several detailed business design matters to work out as we move forward. We plan to start simply. Our team at PWGSC is currently running internally for one of our open source applications called ArchNAV (as a result we haven't been updating that app at its location as often). We hope to have our pilot publicly-usable CoSE Worksite server running by February or March, if the main business considerations are worked out. Then, through to next autumn, we plan to learn our way forward. We should be able to advance from "pilot" to "official" by the end of 2005, running on an environment selected via a competition, which may or may not be gforge.

All that to say: It would be great to host FreeBSD early during our pilot stage, so you'll be hearing back from me as soon as we can do something about it.

Questions or suggestions about the CoSE Worksite Initiative are welcome.

Joseph (José) Potvin

Management Team Member, Enterprise Architecture, Standards and Security Unit

Standards, Engineering and Project Management Sector

Information Technology Services Branch (ITSB)

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)

Government of Canada

11 Rue Laurier, Place du Portage, Phase III, 4th Floor (4A1)

Gatineau (Hull), Quebec K1A 0S5

(819) 956-8617 Voice

(819) 956-8621 Fax

joseph.potvin at