FOSS in Brazil: An important shift in leadership
April 26, 2008
On April 17, Marcos Mazoni, the current director of Brazil’s Federal Data Processing firm (SERPRO) was appointed to head an arcane bureaucratic body: the Technical Committee for the Implementation of Free Software (CISL).
Mazoni replaces Renato Martini, the current president of Brazil’s National Technology Institute (ITI, a small office within the executive branch).
This is big news for Brazil’s Free Software movement. One of the earliest public officials to champion FOSS in the world, Mazoni has earned a widespread reputation as an effective administrator and a skilled manager of FOSS migrations.
Mazoni has an impressive record as a public servant in many of Brazil’s largest state-owned IT firms. After leading some of the earliest public sector FOSS migrations in the late 1990’s at PROCERGS (the IT agency of the state of Rio Grande do Sul), Mazoni did not take a federal position under the first administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Instead, he became president of CELEPAR, the Informatics Company of Parana state, from 2003-2006, transforming the firm into Brazil’s most celebrated and extensive case of FOSS adoption.
Mazoni received his current appointment as SERPRO president at the beginning of Lula’s second term in 2007. Since that time, Mazoni has performed a crucial leadership role among the FOSS supporters within the fragmented and over-sized Brazilian bureaucracy.
As head of the CISL, Mazoni will have oversight of the FOSS migration efforts across dozens of federal ministries, agencies, offices, and firms. He will also have an opportunity to implement new migration strategies and build consensus around the strategic, technical, and financial advantages of FOSS.
Lula’s endorsement of FOSS received world-wide attention during his first term. Since that time, many observers have publicly doubted whether there was any substance to Lula’s pro-FOSS stance. While a number of large-scale migrations did take place during the first term, things slowed down following the departure of Sergio Amadeu, the polemical professor who gained global fame for his radical denunciations of the anti-competitive tactics of proprietary-minded IT firms like Microsoft.
Mazoni’s placement as the head of SERPRO, and now as the head of the CISL signals that Lula is still serious about FOSS. With two years to go before Brazil’s next presidential election, Mazoni will almost certainly have time to make his presence felt.