On January 1st, 2002 I tried to use the website of the Dutch national railway (www.ns.nl) using Linux. The site refused me access, it was IE-only. This sparked a conversation with members of parliament about the need for open standards. Over a five year period I progressed from talking to opposition-MP's to meeting the economics minister directly and was able to significantly influence national policy despite total lack of funding or any specific mandate.
On December 12th we achieved a stunning victory, the Dutch public sector will move to standardize on Open Documents Format and use opensource where comparable functionality is available in all new procurements as of 2008. Use of ODF as a public sector document standard will be mandatory in 2009. My talk will tell the tale of why we did it but mostly how we did it and how others can do it too in other countries around the world. How to get access to the power-that-be, how to get non-technical people interested in the subject. How to align your policy proposals with existing policies. While I'll do a short lead-in with some of the political reasons for wanting open standards and opensource in government IT I'll focus mainly on how to get results. From having no policy at all in 2002 the Dutch government has recently decided to mandate the use of open standards for all government institutions, health care, education, libraries and any other tax-funded organizations. Opensource software will receive preferential treatment.