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Deployment of open source electronic content management software in national government departments in South Africa

Mpho Ngoepe (Department of Information Science, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

ISSN: 2053-4620

Article publication date: 5 October 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to report the deployment of open source electronic content management software in national government departments in South Africa, with the view to raise awareness of the free and open source software (FOSS) policy. Many countries including South Africa have developed policies that encourage the deployment of free and open source software (FOSS).

Design/methodology/approach

The paper opted for qualitative data collected through interviews with four chief information officers, five information technology (IT) officials, two records managers from government departments, one archivist from the National Archives of South Africa and one IT official from the State Information Technology Agency; these were selected purposively from national government departments. Furthermore, a free test trial of open source software, Alfresco Community Edition, was conducted for a 30-day period during September 2013. Alfresco was chosen as it is the preferred FOSS in government departments in South Africa.

Findings

The key finding reveals that, in contrast with the FOSS policy, governmental bodies in South Africa preferred proprietary software over FOSS, as only one government department has migrated to FOSS. The reasons cited for the low uptake of open source electronic content management include the perceived lack of support for FOSS or short lifespan support which was confirmed through the trial test, as well as a lack of IT skills by records management practitioners who are responsible for implementation of electronic content management and hidden costs as the internal staff would spend time supporting, tailoring and enhancing the software. It is observed that failure to raise awareness and benefits of the FOSS policy in South Africa will curtail the document into a dull epistle.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the chosen research approach and sampling method, the results were not generalised to the population. It is hoped that the study will stimulate further research interest and raise awareness in government departments with regard to FOSS policy implementation, especially in the area of electronic content management.

Practical implications

The paper shows the difficulty in implementing a policy and putting it into practice without looking into its practical feasibility.

Originality/value

This research attempts to bridge the gap and bring new elements by assessing the level of FOSS adoption in the area of electronic content management which is often ignored by the government and also less researched by scholars.

Keywords

Citation

Ngoepe, M. (2015), "Deployment of open source electronic content management software in national government departments in South Africa", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 190-205. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-05-2014-0021

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited