SBR gets open source tool, AUSkey coming to Linux

National Linux advocacy body Linux Australia has added its support for the federal government’s Standard Business Reporting initiative by planning an open source SBR integration project, meanwhile work begins at the ATO on AUSkey for Linux.

SBR is an effort by the Department of Treasury to streamline information interchange between government departments and business.

Several departments have committed to adopting SBR for their systems, including the ATO and ASIC and a number of software companies have developed commercial products that support the new program.

For security, SBR uses the AUSkey PKI authentication software, which attracted recent criticism for not being supported under Linux.

That is set to change with Linux Australia president John Ferlito revealing plans to develop an open source interface to SBR and the ATO has expressed interest in making AUSkey available for Linux.

In his July 2010 president’s report, Ferlito said SBR is essentially an API to allow standard government documents, like a BAS or an employment declaration, to be filed electronically.

“A few months ago, I was contacted by [accounting software company] Muli Management to have [its] software support the SBR system, and they were interested in my assistance,” Ferlito said.

Muli asked Ferlito to help develop the software to interface with the SBR and assist them create the resulting code as a fully-fledged open source project that other projects could then use.

“I put my Linux Australia hat on, and indicated I would like to work with Muli to help make that happen,” he said.

Ferlito said the process is still at an early stage, but a document has already been submitted to Treasury outlining the requirements for the open source community to be able to interact with SBR.

“We also pointed out the current issues with AUSkey in relation to being able to file a BAS,” he said. “The response from Treasury has been very promising, and they are quite eager to work with Linux Australia and Muli to try and aid the open source community.”

Treasury even expressed interest in placing the reference client software under an “appropriate license” so the open source community can make use of them.

At the Tax Office, the main developer of the AUSkey project, there is not yet any support for the Linux platform, but it is already working on “limited support”.

A spokesperson for the ATO told TechWorld in the past the ATO has provided limited support for Linux through the provision of software to download and install the ATO digital certificate.

“It is the intention of the ATO that similar limited support be provided for AUSkey. Work is progressing to achieve this,” the spokesperson said.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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