If you haven't already, you should meet Venky Hariharan. He's one of the most passionate and articulate advocates for open source and open standards in India or anywhere else. Every time we meet, I get a little smarter. At our last meeting, we were lucky enough to have a video camera.
This conversation was fascinating for me because I didn't realize how different our approaches are to the question of open source in government. In India, where processes and standards are less well-developed and there are a large number of people in desperate need of opportunity, open source is seen as an almost humanitarian endeavour, and it is adopted through centralized authorities.
By contrast, the United States is already swimming in processes and standards for consuming software. So open source in government is very much a grass-roots effort: thousands of advocates working in their own agencies or departments, demonstrating tens of thousands of tiny successes. An advocate's job, in this case, is to ensure that open source can be easily consumed within the existing structure.