A new guide designed to help federal government agencies evaluate
open-source products alongside their proprietary rivals is due to be completed
and distributed by September, officials told ZDNet Australia on Wednesday.
The guide, to be a specialized supplement to the existing "Guide to ICT
Sourcing" for Australian government departments and agencies, is also designed
to reinforce the federal government's position of "informed neutrality in ICT
sourcing," the officials said in e-mailed replies to questions from ZDNet
News of the guide was first posted to Linux and open-source groups earlier
Tony Judge, Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)
acting general manager of sourcing and security, told ZDNet Australia the guide,
while targeted at federal government agencies, would also be made available to
their state and territory counterparts.
He said a draft was expected to be completed and distributed for comment in
"The guide is being developed to assist agencies in making informed decisions
on the merits of open-source software and to provide a basis on which these
solutions can be compared with other options on the criteria of fit for purpose
and value for money," the officials said.
They cited the increasing uptake of open-source solutions within the
Australian government sector as the market driver behind preparing the new
guide, citing "high-profile open-source software" initiatives being undertaken
by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Centrelink and the Bureau of
Other agencies pursuing open-source initiatives include the Institute of
Health and Welfare and AGIMO itself, which is using open source in its AusTender
federal government tendering site and its Web content management system.
The guide's format is expected to closely follow that of the existing ICT
sourcing guide, which provides information, approaches and tools for agencies to
consider when adopting and implementing new ICT investments. This publication,
however, will also deal with issues specific to open-source procurement. "For
example, in procuring an open-source solution, agencies may be purchasing
services and support rather than a tangible product," the officials said. "It
will also cover issues such as using open-source software in a mixed ICT
environment--increasingly, the environment in which open source solutions are
"The guide will also address the legal and risk management issues associated
with open-source solutions, as these areas differ considerably from the more
familiar proprietary model."
Judge said AGIMO would turn to its existing panel of legal providers, some of
whom had a strong background in open-source issues, to compile advice for the
guide, while it would turn to organizations in the private and public sectors to
secure advice on risk management.
The officials also noted the guide would not carry legal weight, with the
Financial Management and Accountability Act (1997) and associated Commonwealth
Procurement Guidelines continuing to form the legislative basis for Australian
Iain Ferguson of ZDNet
Australia reported from Sydney.