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A website has been launched to help local authorities make decisions on the use of open source software.

Open Source Academy (OSA), a consortium of organisations with experience of the technology, unveiled the site on 1 March 2006.

It said the site, which includes a free 'ask an expert' service, will provide answers to council members and officers about the choice available in software procurement.

It will provide a growing resource of information and guidance, including:

  • case studies of councils which have migrated to open source software (OSS),
  • technical papers with guidance on using OSS,
  • a database of systems to provide a quick guide to integration between existing systems,
  • and a news service.

OpenForum Europe director Bob Blatchford, who has been managing the development of the portal, said: "OSA aims to encourage local authorities to adopt procurement policies which involve making balanced 'strategic IT choices' between traditional proprietary and open source software solutions.

"OSS systems are viable and credible alternatives to proprietary software that can bring cost savings as well as security, organisational and community benefits when implemented in local government organisations.

"The services delivered by the portal are a first step to furnishing local authorities with the comparative information they need when considering software procurement decisions."

OSA is a consortium led by Birmingham City Council, and includes Cheshire, Bristol and Shepway councils, the University of Kent, OpenForum Europe, National Computing Centre, the Society of IT Management and the Institute of IT Training. It is funded under the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's (ODPM) e-Innovations programme, and was established to encourage local authorities to make more use of OSS.

Software distributed under an OSS licence makes the source code available so that anyone can use, copy, modify and distribute the software.

The ODPM is supporting the OSA in an effort to promote greater competition in the software market.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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