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FOSS vendors lick chops over ConLib IT plans

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Analysis In the run-up to the General Election both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats made positive noises about open source software in their respective manifestos.

But now that a coalition government has been formed out of those blue and yellow political camps, will both parties actually stick to the Tories’ pledge of making UK.gov IT procurement more equal for open source, and how different are their commitments to the ones made by the previous Labour administration?

In many ways, the Conservative party’s manifesto echoed certain aspects of Labour’s open source and open standards policy for the public sector, which was tweaked in January this year.

It spoke about creating a more “level playing field” for open source technology in government, and the Tories promised something very similar in their manifesto. They also said they would open up the British government’s IT contracts to small and medium-sized businesses by dividing large technology projects into smaller chunks.

Perhaps more importantly, the Tories said they would immediately halt planned IT procurement projects to assess proposals and “ensure that small businesses and open source IT providers are not locked out of the bidding process”.

The LibDems, meanwhile, committed just one line in their manifesto to the cause.

They called on “better IT procurement, investigating the potential of different approaches such as cloud computing and open source software” in their pre-election pledge.

Of course both the Tories and the LibDems currenty face an overwhelming problem with a multi-billion pound deficit. So is the pledge to support open source software procurement - that might just help drive down some costs - a happy coincidence for the Camelegg jamboree?

"With the current coalition exploring a rather unchartered territory [sic] of power sharing and common interests, it will be interesting to see what change the new Cabinet will bring to the UK public IT policy,” Ingres global ops veep Steve Shine told The Register following the coalition's formation.

But differences of opinion within that alliance over open source software - no matter how minor - may yet affect Tory IT procurement promises made before the coalition took office in Whitehall.

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