LAMP Development at Public Sector Web Sites

A new breed of IT firm is helping federal, state and local governments create a “public infostructure” of interoperable, effective Web-based applications.
gOSapps LLC

As a career Naval Officer, Tom Walker gained extensive experience in programming and Web enabling computer systems that support international military and special forces operations. After leaving the service, he used his leadership abilities to build a client list for gOSapps LLC of more than 400 customers. To date, his organization has installed more than 500 LAMP applications.

Walker's enthusiasm for open-source software is evident. He recently spoke at a Department of Defense staff briefing on the security, reliability and performance of open-source software. He told his audience:

The DOD decision [to use open-source software] will result in widespread changes in software development and acquisition throughout the federal government and with government contractors. The challenge for many departments is that right now the new policy has raised more questions than answers in a fast growing segment of the technology industry.

One of gOSapps LLC's projects is the Open Source Initiate Review (OSIR). OSIR provides formal expert analysis of existing system architectures and applications to help government agencies reach a high level of preparedness for open-source transition.

Recent wins for Walker include the US Navy's Technical Support Group Summary. Walker writes:

We provided the architecture, design and deployment of secure Web and CD-based training programs. The Technical Support Group (TSG) required a reliable method to deliver training on secure advanced communications system to remote locations. This training required delivery by a variety of transfer methods.

Additionally, due to ever-changing technological changes, the data had to be updated easily, minimizing the costs for program changes. We deployed special strategies and created a multimedia training system that was both informative and entertaining. The data is transferable on CD or over secure communication links.

Additionally, by allowing last minute compilation of data from a secure database, the training is always up to date. This data compilation is performed automatically, minimizing the training costs and time requirements for the technical support staff. An internal object-oriented framework utilized results in lower development time and costs, far fewer pre-QA defects and a richer feature set. The MySQL relational database allowed us to use complex data-driven applications, coupled with reliability and speed. We had a direct role in all aspects of the development cycle, coupled with close communication and feedback from the client, resulting in an advanced yet intuitive interface to meet client needs.

Walker's team also developed an on-line LAMP application to manage the database of storm water facilities and their ratings for James County, Virginia. Walker explains:

We developed the front-end interface for searching and viewing facility information. We also developed complete functional design specifications, carried through to development and deployment of multi-tiered relational database-driven Web applications.

The system is designed to meet the county's specific need to post and broadcast notifications of watershed quality results. The entire application is maintained through an intranet system, all managed by a unified administrative application.

National Center for State Courts

James E. McMillan, employed at the National Center for State Courts has fashioned a Web site that says, “If you have ever wanted to try out court E-filing, now you can. Just click on the E-File a Document link above or the button below and fill in the forms.” The Web site also states, “You will be sent a password (you must have a working e-mail address) and attach your document. Or, you can fill out our demonstration complaint form.” James directs the Court Technology Laborartory (CTL, ctl.ncsc.dni.us/about_jim_mcmillan.htm).

McMillan has made his LAMP Project available to all the courts in the world. The inCounter Web site provides the downloadable source code to the inCounter Electronic Filing Manager Project. Look for a link that says “inCounter Open Source E-filing System” on James' Web page mentioned above. The link will take you to the current location of his OSS project.

Why are we doing this? To help the courts and legal system adopt electronic communication. Specifically, the inCounter Electronic Filing Manager Project is an effort to build the core functionality of an electronic filing inbox that has the following initial goals:

  • Demonstrate electronic court document filing.

  • Demonstrate a simple-to-use system (limited initial scope).

  • Create an expandable and customizable system through use of open-source code.

  • Demonstrate support for CourtXML/OASIS LegalXML filing standards.

  • Demonstrate support of the W3C SOAP XML communications standard (to connect commercial and advanced systems).

  • Demonstrate the use of free Linux, Apache, Perl and MySQL software in a court application.

McMillan joined the National Center for State Courts in October 1990. Since then, more than 1,000 visits from courts in 50 states and more than 70 foreign nations have been held in the CTL. Over 10,000 people have viewed remote CTL presentations. In November 2000, the TIES-CTL Project received the State Justice Institute's Howell Heflin Outstanding Project award.

With credentials comes credibility and McMillan has plenty. He previously held positions with the US Department of Justice and the Los Angeles Superior Court. He was a keynote speaker at the Fifth National Court Technology Conference and a lecturer at the National Judicial College, University of Southern California Judicial Administration Program, Smithsonian Associates, and many other national and international court, law and technology interest groups.

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Re: LAMP Development at Public Sector Web Sites

Anonymous's picture

Cash-strapped local governments will soon be forced to
consider Linux applications, or face law suits for squandering
public funds. Here in Canada, there is hardly a city hall that
couldn't save hard earned tax dollars from open source apps
aimed at this sector. Question is... Are there apps ready to
take on the task? If anyone knows of companies offering such software, I'd be interested in knowing who they are.

Sandy Milne
sandy@telus.net

Re: LAMP Development at Public Sector Web Sites

Anonymous's picture

Blast Internet Services, Pittsboro, NC 27312 (OpenNMS, Open source network management software).

Re: LAMP Development at Public Sector Web Sites

Anonymous's picture

There are a very few small OSS businesses that support and customize some open source packages like Zope and OpenCMS... but there are a large number of small firms that COULD become active in this area if the Canadian federal and provincial governments would adopt the required policies on OSS procurement.

This will become an area of great interest as the benefits to the economy of increased business for local and national high-tech firms become realized... political motivation may succeed where financial benefits remain under the radar.

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