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DrupalGov Canberra 2014 and the push for Drupal in Australian Government

There was some exciting news announced last week as the Australian government said it was strongly considering replatforming on Drupal, potentially replacing 1200 websites used across the board of the commonwealth. The reasons for the move are accredited to lower costs, better responsive capabilities, security and accessibility compliance and the ability to leverage a massive, innovative open source ecosystem.

In a blog post, CTO John Sheridan said, “The Government Content Management System (GovCMS) is envisaged as an important service offering for Australian Commonwealth Government agencies. It represents a tangible implementation of the Government’s policy for eGovernment and the Digital Economy, which sets the direction to ‘Simplify Government ICT and eliminate duplicated, fragmented and sub-scale activities across agencies by requiring use of shared or cloud services where minimum efficient scale hurdles are not met,’ Our preference is for Software-as-a-Service on Public Cloud, using Open Source Drupal software."
And this makes perfect sense. Drupal is fantastic for governments and those in the public sector for several reasons:

  • The aGov distribution (http://drupal.org/project/agov) has been specifically designed to bring requisite Australian government standards to Drupal out of the box
  • The $0 price tag is an attractive incentive for departments looking for a way out of expensive proprietary software licences
  • Emphasis on workflow both in Drupal core and extended with contributed modules allows for a rich experience for content authors and editors
  • Strong role, user and permission management to allow simple restriction and provisioning of access to site users.
  • The ability to collaborate openly with other government departments or the community at large to share open source code will expedite both developer experience and site improvements.

With that said, I’m excited to say that DrupalGov Canberra, Asia Pacific and Australia’s only Government centric Drupal event, is coming for another year.
Even with DrupalGov Canberra 2014 as a sequel to the successful DrupalGov Canberra 2013, it's likely that an event would be necessary anyway after Sheridan’s announcement. Long story short, Drupal and cloud are considered with high regard as an open source solution to Governmental needs for a CMS.

This is exciting for me for three main reasons:

  • I'm a Drupal advocate/developer with a passion for open source
  • I work for a managed cloud hosting company
  • I currently live in Canberra

These three reasons combined mean that although I am not directly affected by a decision to migrate sites to a GovCMS​, many around me will be. Ensuring we have both a local Drupal user group and a best in class event to champion the use of Drupal within Government will provide those transitioning with more support as they get up and running.

Quite often around new technologies there exists a certain degree of fear; there's fear of change, the unknown and of obsolescence. While Drupal has been around for well over 10 years, it's still relatively new within Government circles, traditionally the bastion of proprietary and closed source. The community driving the development, use, training and support of Drupal is vibrant and active. Looking at an aggregate calendar shows 80 unique events spread over 6 continents globally with Drupal as the topic of discussion, this includes one such event in Canberra. The community exists, in part, to reduce the barrier to entry and inform in order to reduce fear.

One of the mottos with Drupal is: Come for the code, stay for the community.

This is something I've found true, at least for me. The code was great, drew me in and allowed me to write code of my own. But the real thing that prompted me to stay, pushed me to develop more and allowed my passion for Drupal and open source to thrive was the community and the sheer force of effort that I observe others put into it.

So in summary, I want DrupalGov Canberra 2014 to demonstrate the community driving Drupal, to inform those unfamiliar with the software and provide the same momentum I felt at my first Drupal event, to both Government and private sector alike.

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