The method, whereby the government forms a panel of contract suppliers to service agencies' needs, eliminates the need for agencies to invest in calling their own tenders and evaluating bids. The state government released the tender yesterday morning.
John Della Bosca, NSW Commerce Minister, said in a statement the panel contract had been released after a number of agencies had requested access to better support services for their open source solutions.
"Agencies seeking open source software and services will be able to go straight to the list of suppliers and select the one that best meets their needs without having to spend time and money on calling their own tenders and evaluating the bids," Della Bosca said.
"It is estimated that this procurement method can save medium to large bodies up to 12 percent and small agencies up to 25 percent".
The move is likely to increase the already growing attractiveness of Linux to state government agencies. In recent months, the NSW Office of State Revenue selected open source for its e-commerce services and offices throughout the state, while the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority has also selected an open source solution for e-mail and desktop facilities for 1,500 motor registry staff.
The government said the panel contract focussed on Linux rather than other open source solutions "as [Linux] is the most popular and well supported open source operating system on the marketplace today".
The state Department of Commerce refused to provide further elaboration on the tender document statement that selection criteria will include the capacity of a tenderer to protect a customer from anti-Linux litigation, particularly any alleged claims of patent or intellectual property infringement. It said only "the [request for tender] does not specify any particular approach.
"Tenderers are required to describe their strategies for dealing with open source intellectual property issues.
"The responses will be considered in the evaluation of tenders".
The state government is due to release a policy on open source by the end of the year.