Some time back I wrote a short blog post on the (publicly available) open source position of the main political parties in the UK. At the time the Conservative party came out as having a very positive approach towards open source.
As covered on the Mercian Labels blog George Osbourne the Shadow Chancellor has taken this one step further by asking Dr Mark Thompson to develop independent recommendations to provide a better deal for taxpayers. The summarised results were as follows:
- The Government could save at least £600 million per year if it adopted a more effective open IT procurement process. The open source savings would come not just from reduced licensing costs, but importantly by freeing government bodies from long-term, monopoly supply situations.
- New government data standards should be introduced across government, creating a level playing-field for open source software.
- These new standards would enable large-scale IT projects to be split into small modular components, meaning that the UK government should never again need to sign an IT software contract worth over £100 million – so no more
IT ‘white elephants’.
A possible reference there to projects like the NHS records Project with a predicted £12 billion spend, and being 4 years late, still looks like showing very little tangible benefit.
Meanwhile across in the United States, in his first couple of weeks of Government, Barack Obama has just asked Scott McNealy the CEO of Sun Microsystems for a paper on how open source can improve security and be cost-effective for USA government.
At the same time there is a petition on the Number10 government website to ask “That bodies in receipt of public money be mandated to evaluate open source alternatives before the purchase of commercial software”. From the petition details – “This could potentially save large sums of money at a time when the demands upon tax revenues are significantly increased”. Outserve is encouraging people who would like the Government to have a policy to look at open source to sign the petition online.
Petition link http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Open-Source/