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Australian Tax Office Moves Toward Open Standards

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the bruce-sips-the-coffee dept.

Java 10

An anonymous reader writes "Neat! The Australian Tax Office (the Aussie equivalent of the IRS) has been criticised for being too reliant on Microsoft software and, well, they're doing something about it such as supporting Java runtime for the first time. So maybe I can do my tax return on something more secure than a Windows PC this year?" This makes a good update for our previous post on the office's open source moves.

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Great...where is the link on YRO ? (2, Insightful)

gorim (700913) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301451)

Awesome move by the tax office. Where is the link on how this is related to my rights online ?

Re:Great...where is the link on YRO ? (1)

lewko (195646) | more than 10 years ago | (#9406581)

It affects your 'right' to choose other operating systems if you choose.

Comment Title is wrong (3, Insightful)

Herrieman (167396) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301489)

I thought that Java was far from open, and not even an official standard?

Java (2, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301802)

Java is actually pretty open, and it is indeed a standard.

  • The JCP (Java Community Process) provides some degree of community control over Java itself.
  • Java has no patents encumbering it.
  • Although Sun's JVM isn't Free, it is open source.
  • With Java, you have choice in where you get your VM: Sun's JVM, IBM's JVM, Jikes, GCJ, Kaffe, etc.
  • Sun's benevolent dictatorship of Java means that Java is a standard -- that's what the Microsoft settlement is all about: keeping Java standardized (Java is FAR more standardized than C++). Sun dictates the standard. Just because it isn't an ANSI or ISO standard doesn't mean it isn't a standard. And just because ANSI or the ISO say something is standard, doesn't mean it is. C++? Hah! No real standards there.
So all in all, Java is pretty open, and is definitely a standard.

This is news? (1)

Beltza (117984) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301492)

Is it realy necessary to have a daily post about a public service moving to open source. Come on, back in 2000 these kind of things were news, but as you can read on /. it is happening every day!

Java efforts (1)

hool5400 (257022) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301527)

I've been using the ATOs 'Electronic Commerce Interface' for a while. This is for electronic submission of BAS statements and various other forms.

So, the ATO have been doing Java for a while, however, their Java efforts make their Windows efforts look good.

To be honest, I can't see why they just can't have web based forms.

Re:Java efforts (4, Insightful)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301582)

It's pretty straightforward. The Australian government is driven primarily and irrevocably by budget. Budget is king and lord of all machinations of the Australian government at the functional level. (At the upper levels of course it's driven by backscratching, porkbarreling, ignorance, and the usual corruption, and at the lower levels it's driven by apathy and the job security of the public service).

If a government department, federal, state or local, uses all of it's budget, it gets the same budget next year. If it doesn't, it loses budget. This is of course why government IT buying is always frenzied just before budget time.

Also, in government, there is a perception, a strong perception, that money spent = value, as money spent increases, value increases. A product that is given freely therefore has no value. It does not therefore work properly because it is valueless. If, in the case of vendorless open source software, it can not be made to work because you cannot pay the vendor to make it work. All tasks in government resolve around expenditure rather than functionality. For example, they don't put up a website for australian heritage, they spend money on doing... something... for australian heritage. Senator Alston doesn't have a website, instead he spends $4M on an IT project of great importance.

So you see why they can't just use web based forms. No vendor to spend money on.

Yeah... (3, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9301987)

Yeah, you just described the Canadian government perfectly. Oh wait, you were talking about Australia?

Seriously -- welcome to the beauracracy. Every multi-tiered business, every government, every organization that actually requires organization; they all work this way. It's the sad, pathetic result of budgets.

I've heard of organizations that don't tell their sub-organizations what their budgets are. They just let them request money, and as the money gets used up they make it harder to request more. It's a nice idea, but ultimately just leads to more complex and annoying ways of gaming the system.

Re:Java efforts (2, Insightful)

Finuvir (596566) | more than 10 years ago | (#9302457)

I would think that any government department, in any government, would have little difficulty using up its whole budget. The Finance Minister does more than checking to see if last year's money was spent. Of course it was, it always is. And they don't need to spend it on tech to spend it.

It all means nothing for the present (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9301827)

As I understand it, most of the ATO's electronic services now require the use of a proprietary VPN system, which replaced the previous system that used, among other things, low-speed direct dialup lines (with, if memory serves, required the use of proprietary 'secure' comms software, so no standard PPP anyway).

There's been a huge amount of trouble - both inside the ATO and from it's customers - with this new system. By all measures it's been a very expensive and non-to-successful transition. While the old system was insecure and archaic, there's little evidence that the new one is yet any better.

They were at least planning on resolving the proprietary VPN issues, so that sys admins wouldn't be tearing their hair out trying to get their machines to work with it (which, by the way, required Windows-only software to do)... I imagine they must be close to doing that, if they haven't already.

Still, I don't think the ATO has ever been nor in any near future will be a good example of open standards. I can't reveal all I know, but some of the stories I've heard first hand would make your skin crawl - if you could believe the stupidity in them to start with.
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