This article is from the “All about Open Source - An Introduction to Open Source Software for Government IT” paper (Version 1.0).
In March 2011 the Government published the HMG ICT Strategy1 which aims to provide better public services for less cost and will be implemented via 30 actions which are set to revolutionise Government ICT. The Strategy commissioned an action focused on ensuring that there is a level playing field for the evaluation of open source and proprietary software. Open source is part of a wider focus on lowering barriers to participation, including for SMEs, reducing vendor lock in, increasing use of open standards, improving competitive tension, and reducing the overall costs of Government IT.
It is Government policy to consider open source solutions on their merits and according to total lifetime cost of ownership. Government recognises the potential benefits of Open Source Software (OSS) and is committed to increasing the adoption of open source solutions across government, where it offers best value for the taxpayer.
Action 3 in the HMG ICT Strategy specifically details the publication of a toolkit for procurers on best practice for evaluating the use of open source solutions.
‘All about Open Source’ forms a key part of that toolkit and is designed as an introduction to inform the reader about the basics of open source. Whilst the document is intended to sit alongside the other documents within the toolkit it is not solely aimed at procurement professionals.
This document does not evaluate, recommend or offer judgement on any specific OSS products or any legal risks that may arise. It is a business decision whether to use open source software that should be made on a case by case basis after assessing the options for VfM and the associated benefits and risks of each.
Next, read Open Source in Government