Cabinet Office pushes suppliers on open source

Govt wants to create a 'level playing field' for OS in its ICT policy

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The government's deputy chief information officer has told suppliers that it wants to open source technology to feature in its ICT strategy.

Bill McCluggage met with suppliers last week to make clear that the Cabinet Office, which leads on ICT policy, wishes to increase the deployment of open source across government.

He emphasised that the government wishes to see the industry offer more solutions based on open source, and listed a number of approaches that it expects it to follow. These include: evaluating open source solutions in all future proposals; including open standards and interoperability as key components in IT systems; and moving towards the use of open source as normal practice.

The coalition has adopted a policy included in the Conservatives' pre-election technology manifesto to "create a level playing field" for open source software in government. It believes this will make it possible to split ICT projects into smaller components and deliver substantial savings.

There have also been reports of the development of a new model, to be used as part of the procurement process, for assessing the use of open source in government systems.

At the end of January, the Cabinet Office published a procurement policy note on using open standards in specifying IT requirements. It said that government assets should be interoperable and open for re-use in order to maximise return on investment, avoid technological lock-in, reduce operational risk in ICT projects and provide responsive services.

This requires the inclusion of open standards in ICT procurement specifications, although the paper says this can be waived if "there are clear business reasons why this is inappropriate".

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

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