UK government open source guidelines ignored, says Ingres

Software tenders that have taken place since the government published its open source policy in February have ignored those guidelines, according to database firm Ingres.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The public sector is ignoring government guidelines on procuring open-source software, according to open source database company Ingres.

At a roundtable event on Thursday, Ingres worldwide operations chief Steve Shine praised the guidelines--issued in February--but said they were being ignored because there is nobody in place to enforce them.

"The UK has one of the best-written policies out there--the problem is policing it," Shine said. "There is no link today [between] that document and the tender process. I think it's not come through because there isn't a clear body responsible for enforcing it all."

Shine said several software tenders had taken place since the Chief Information Officer Council issued the guidelines, but none took the policy into account and all had opted for proprietary systems.

The policy recommends that where open source and proprietary alternatives are on offer at a similar price, open source should be favored due to its lower exit and transition costs.

Jeremy Tuck, chief information officer at Islington Council, agreed that he had seen "no real incentive to choose open source" apart from the policy recommendations themselves.

The guidelines, entitled Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use, were written up by the then Minister for Digital Engagement, Tom Watson, who said at the time that he hoped the policy would encourage more government departments to use open source.

Watson also warned against public-sector organizations becoming locked in to proprietary software, and said the government would "require those proposing proprietary software to specify how exit would be achieved".

ZDNet Asia's sister site, ZDNet UK asked the Cabinet Office on Friday for comment on the government's software-procurement policies since the guidelines were issued, but had received no reply at the time of writing.

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