Somebody once said that the open source movement is a modern-day equivalent of communal barn-raising. It's a surprisingly innovative force that policy-makers worldwide need to understand. Why has open source hit the radar scope of governments? The simple answer is that the public policy stakes have become much higher. The development of advanced info-communication networks is now a key policy objective for almost all governments around the world. Not only are these networks seen as an important determinant of national competitiveness in an increasingly globalized knowledge economy, they are also seen as offering new opportunities in areas such as education, health and social advancement. Itís no surprise that almost every government in the world has put a high priority on improving access to advanced info-communications technologies, promoting digital literacy and improved access to government public services (e-government). Not surprisingly, open source is increasingly seen as another tool toward this goal, in both developed and more particularly in developing countries. O'Reilly Network has recently published an interesting timeline from 1995 to the present documenting the use of open source software by governments around the world.
On that note, in October 2002, I participated in Georgetown University's Open Source Summit: Public Interest & Policy Issues, which was spearheaded by Dr. Linda Garcia and her smart group of students at the Communication, Culture & Technology Program at Georgetown. Across town, I see that as a follow-up to their October 2002 conference on Open Source for E-Government, the Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute (CSPRI) of George Washington University is organizing a conference on "Open Source for National and Local eGovernment Programs in the U.S. and EU" to be held in Washington, DC, USA, March 17 - 19, 2003. Here is the call for papers. Slashdot has a related thread.
In preparation for the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society, the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit maintains some ICT Success Stories pages which includes one related to e-government.