UK Government reckons this open source thingy could catch on maybe

UK Government reckons this open source thingy could catch on maybe

Summary: Yep - in typical fashion, even the government's tacit admission that it was behind the curve on open source was released late.The press release/statement/apology - Government levels the playing field for open source - wasn't sent out from the Ministry of Truth until at least 7.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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Yep - in typical fashion, even the government's tacit admission that it was behind the curve on open source was released late.

The press release/statement/apology - Government levels the playing field for open source - wasn't sent out from the Ministry of Truth until at least 7.00pm - when most reporters are tucked up in the nearest hostelry.

And what about that headline - "levels the playing field' - that seems to imply that until now the government has been quite happy with uneven playing field when it comes to procuring anything but proprietary technology but I might be being unfair.

Interestingly though the release also states that "major players in the IT industry now support the use of Open Standards". For major players basically read Microsoft as I am not sure what other major players have recently stumbled over this open source thing: IBM, HP, Dell - have all been supporting Linux (to some degree or other) for years.

Anyway, better late than passed-over-in-favour-of-a -reduced-price-which-quickly-becomes-lock-in, I guess.

The timing is also interesting. Is it down to open source finally reaching critical mass as the government claims ? Or could it be something to do with the fact that the Treasury has given all our money to bankers and can no longer afford to throw cash at whichever proprietary solutions EDS thinks is best for us?

Minister for Digital Engagement (what sort of job title is that??? Does that mean he can marry two computers that are very much in love), Tom Watson clearly thinks that open source can save the government some cash:

"Open Source software is a not a cure-all remedy and is not the only solution to IT questions. However, by levelling the playing field and allowing Open Source to be as competitive as possible we can ensure that taxpayers get maximum value for money from Government IT, something that is more important than ever during the worldwide financial climate"

However he won't actually goes as far as to say its a superior development model or anything that positive at all. The whole statement reads more like "It could save us a few quid and everyone is doing it so shucks I guess we should too"

Anyways the governments approach is based around three ideas - (three - count'em - not one, not two but three! - Fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency)

There are three aspects to the new policy:

Open Source software: the policy includes 10 actions that will actively help make sure the best possible, best value for money software solutions are put forward for tenders, be they Open Source or propriety products.

Open Standards: the policy contains an explicit reference to Open Standards, ensuring systems are inter-operable and avoiding getting locked into a particular product where possible.

Re-use: the Government will look to re-use what it has already bought, with successful solutions being made available across Government.

So there you go - that's that open source thing taken care off. Tune in next week when the government decides that this Interwebby thing might actually be useful.

Topic: Tech Industry

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

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Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and ZDNet.co.uk.

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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  • UK Government reckons this open source thingy could catch on maybe

    Andrew - Good Heavens, is there really a "Minister for Digital Engagement"? I shudder to think so - and even more so that the current minister's name is Watson... I swear, I am not related...

    In terms of re-use, I know of some wonderful Cobol applications that the government might be interested in... or if they really want to take a huge leap forward, perhaps some FORTRAN as well.

    It's so reassuring to know that they are staying right on the pulse of technological developments!

    jw (J. Watson)
    j.a.watson@...
  • UK Government reckons this open source thingy could catch on maybe

    Yep,

    I just loved the language of the release. It had a very grudging tone to it. "Well - we don't really like the idea but everyone else seems to be doing it and it could save us some money so guess we better".

    I chatted to one of the founders of open source hosting specialsts The Positive Internet Company Nick (an interview with Nick should be appearing on ZDNet.co.uk soon) Mailer who said that quite rightly we have heard the government say the right things about open source before with little result - the difference is that this time they might have to take a hard look at it because they don't have money to through at Microsoft/EDS anymore.
    Andrew Donoghue