Govt enforces equal rights for open source

Govt enforces equal rights for open source

Summary: Government agencies should actively participate in open-source communities and will be required to consider open-source options equally when going to tender, under new policy announced by Federal Special Minister of State Gary Gray today.


Government agencies should actively participate in open-source communities and will be required to consider open-source options equally when going to tender, under new policy announced by Federal Special Minister of State Gary Gray today.

The new policy, announced by Gray on the Australian Government Information Management Office blog this morning, asks agencies to include a provision in their procurement plans for projects over $80,000 that the agency will equally consider open-source software along with proprietary software. All procurement decisions will be based on "value for money", the policy states.

In addition to this, suppliers to government agencies will also be required to equally consider open-source solutions when sourcing requirements to respond to tender requests from government. The policy provided examples of clauses agencies could use to ensure suppliers take open-source software into account when responding to tender requests.

"[Agency name] encourages suppliers to submit and/or develop open-source software for this tender," the document stated. "When responding to this tender, suppliers must demonstrate a willingness to actively consider open-source software throughout all stages of procurement, solution design and implementation in order to produce a product that demonstrates value for money and is fit for purpose. This may include incorporating open-source software components together with proprietary software components."

Gray said the original policy needed to be re-evaluated as the open-source industry had matured since it was developed in 2005.

"The government's previous policy, established in 2005, was one of 'informed neutrality'," Gray said in the blog post. "This meant that agencies took an unbiased position that did not favour open-source or proprietary software and procured the solution that was the best 'value for money' and 'fit for purpose' for their specific requirement."

"Since then, there has been an increase in the maturity of the open-source software products and the use of open-source software by governments around the world. In recent years, many governments have revised their policies to increase the adoption of open-source software," he added. "This revised Australian government policy on open-source software will ensure that we maintain international best practice and that our purchases of software will continue to reflect best value for money for the government."

AGIMO faced criticism last week over its decision to mandate the Microsoft-focused office document standard across government agencies over the OpenDocument standard.

The policy commences from 1 March 2011.

Carousel image credit: LCA2010 Open Day image by Christopher Neugebauer, CC BY-SA 2.0

Topics: Government, Government AU, Open Source


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Considering that a 'home' licence for Windows 7, in Australia, retails for AU$399.00 (Government, Enterprise, Charities, and others get it much cheaper) then it is a no brainer!

    The minimum weekly wage in Australia has been lifted to: AU$569.90

    Windows 7 pays for itself within 40 hours of 'gained' productivity -relative to a competing product costing nothing (AU$0.00).

    Windows 7 pays for itself 'even faster' as the users are paid more per hour.

    Since Linux is not actually 'free' in the sense that 'it costs nothing' (it will always have a cost, be it in time, human capital, download costs, support costs, etc) the choice is really quite simple!

    Over the life of the Operating System (3 to 5 years per licence/per user) they are going to gain *a lot more* than 40 hours in productivity versus a product that costs nothing.

    Sure it is fun to 'toy' with Linux in an educational environment, but at the end of the day -for most SMB's- Windows 7 is the better choice.

    On a typical consumer PC Windows 7 might only add $50 to the cost of the machine - since many machines are sold 'inclusive' of the Operating System.

    Complaining that you can't buy a PC without Windows 7 is akin to complaining that you cannot buy a Mac without OS X - nothing but utter folly.

    Those that like to tinker with PC's can DIY with hardware and software (be it Linux, BSD, or something else) - unfortunately this *is not* the most time effective, nor the most cost effective, means to and end.

    Q) When will Linux understand this?
    A) Never, as it was not designed from the ground up to take this into account.
  • Secondly,

    The differences between the OpenDocument standard, and the Microsoft Office document standard are not as major as people (typically on the web) like to make them out to be.

    Wow ZIP (compressed) XML files, with other resources (images, etc). Microsoft have been doing something very similar since their very early .HLP file format.

    If they want a 'real' document format they would be arguing over the lack of PostScript in file-format, not two 'extremely similar' XML document standards, that are both 'open' and 'well defined'. [Oracle], and LibreOffice [The Document Foundation], being the 'new' version since the Oracle take over of Sun Microsystems, do not hold a candle to Microsoft Office 2007, let alone Office 2010.

    Which, also over a 3 to 5 year period (often longer) pay for themselves relative to competing products.

    'Open Source' is almost always a decade behind when it comes to 'innovation' (which is Open Source speak for 'copying what Microsoft have done with the GUI, using 10 times the memory and 5 times the processor power).

    Open-API's and Open-Document standards should never be confused with Open-Source. It will just lose you respect within Government circles.

    If Europe want to keep destroying their own economy like a stack of domino's (first Greece, now Portugal) that is their business - Australia should not follow suit in their madness and counter-productive behaviour.

    It's worse than typical bureaucratic red tape, it really is!

    God look at what is happening to Java! (the language and LibreOffice is coded in) The whole thing is just a political nightmare. No other language has politics at its root like Java does.

    Microsoft Word (in a 32-bit Win32 environment) peaks at under 34 MB memory consumption while loading, with a private working set that / LibreOffice can't hold a candle to: Under 10 MB, thus with over 23 MB shareable with other running processes, with under 13K Page Faults (none of them Hard Faults) upon loading.

    You want to 'benchmark' that against a competing product?, Go ahead.

    In a 'fair and open manner' Microsoft Office 'should' win every tender for *very* valid technical reasons, the only time it would not win is if the tender is so budget constrained that they can't see how it pays for itself within 3 to 5 years (1,095 to 1,825 days). In which case they've made grave errors in their judgement, benchmarking and possibly tender process(es).

    Not to mention with bulk licensing they get GREAT deals on the suite, or individual products required for Commercial or Government / Enterprise use.

    The licence need not follow an employee, so the resourcefulness is also fantastic. (PC, User, Pool, negotiated agreement, etc).

    Microsoft Office:
    - DOES NOT require a RUNTIME ENVIRONMENT to execute in!
    - Nor does, but it uses one anyway, which just adds to the bloat.

    Before you even look at the feature set comparison Microsoft Office has already won the battle.

    Training costs & availability: Microsoft Office wins again.

    Where exactly is '' (which is now 'owned' by Oracle), and it's forked cousin 'LibreOffice' (The Document Foundation) winning this 'war of the office suites?'

    They fail at basic integration and resource consumption is nothing but horrendous.

    Not leveraging the Microsoft Office 'schooling' that millions of Australians are *still* getting 'right now' is borderline criminal - it will cost far more tax payer dollars to train them in something else.

    The number one reason to use Microsoft Office is cost - seriously it *is* cost. It pays for itself much faster than 'so called free' alternatives.

    Any report claiming otherwise does not factor in the minimum cost of a persons time.
  • Go you FanBoy... lay it down...... tell it, how you think it is!!!
    Added productivity, yeah right.....
    Government Gets it Cheaper......well yes we do but does that matter when its still buggy.
    MS keeps me in a job bringing out more junkware every 3 years. Keep up the bad work.

    Oh by the way FanBoy tool, if you had bothered to read the article its not just about OS and Office type Software. Just to let you in, in Government we employ various types of software and I know you might find this hard to believe but MS don't make all the software in the world.... do you need a box of tissues?
  • Bring on the competition !

    @Scott2010au : You sounds like a small minded MCP that work as a desktop support who afraid of change.
    Currently linux is not very dominant in 'enterprise desktop' area, but they excel on the server areas. Google, Facebook, Amazon , various ISPs , DNS registrar and web hosting companies opt to use open source product on their servers because they are simply better and more cost effective.
  • Scott2010, when will the ignoramus ever learn that Windows just costs & costs. Virus & spyware protection, let alone retraining with each update or upgrade. The simpleness of using Linux these days completely refutes everything you claim. Add to that the overall cost to Australia is near enough to a billion dollars for government software alone. We pay for this. Yes there will be a need for more thoroughly trained system managers but the money stays in Australia & spins around in the economy at least 4 or 5 times. Your financial ideologies fall apart under reality checking. Get real & try something worthwhile. Try Linux & see just how hard it really is to use rather than assuming. Your knowledge base is really short & perhaps you need retraining...