Thursday, July 20, 2006

Future Digital Systems - FDSys... Complete Q&A

Cutting Room Floor -- Mike Wash Q&A - GPO, FDSys
My next InfoInsider column describes an initiative at the US Government Printing Office that surprised me by its breadth, vision, and implementation pace. That initiative is called Future Digital System (or FDsys). FDsys began with strategic planning in July 2004 and developed a strategic vision for the 21st Century. This vision provides a plan to provide printing and electronic delivery services to the three branches of federal government, 1250 Federal Depository libraries (providing protection from disastrous losses), and to the general public. FDsys is packaged into six phases, is currently mid-way through phase 4 (implementation planning), and expects a full system implementation in October of 2007.

For the past several months I've posed questions and received responses from Mike Wash, GPO's Chief Technical Officer. Due to the size constraints of my column in eContent Magazine, I could only summarize my questions and Mike's answers. If you've read this far, I assume you'd like more details. Here, in this and succeeding posts, are the details of my interactions with Mike.

Question: Ever the IT guy, I asked "What are your broad systems acquisition strategies:
a. Best of Breed versus integrated systems?

b. Proprietary versus Open Source."
Since we're talking about essentially loosely structured content, by "Proprietary" you can easily infer "Microsoft." By "Open Source" you can equally infer "OpenOffice" or "StarOffice 8."
Answer: Here were Mike's answers.
"FDsys will be focused on meeting customer needs;
therefore, GPO is taking a best of breed approach to acquiring
and integrating the technology components that will comprise
FDsys." and "FDsys is a standards based system."

My comment: Since the federal government is "by the people," --all of us-- I think he did a pretty job of stating a preference for standards while not specifying exactly which standards he was referring to. OpenOffice became an ISO standard in May.