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Government Open Source United Kingdom Politics

UK Goverment IT Chief Backs Open Source Suppliers 72

Blacklaw writes "The UK government's deputy Chief Information Officer has outlined plans to hand public sector IT contracts over to small businesses and suppliers of open-source and cloud-based solutions in an attempt to balance the books. Speaking at the 360IT conference in London on Wednesday, Bill McCluggage also promised greater transparency over IT procurement, with tenders and contracts published online. Outlining a commitment to 'simplify, standardize and automate', McCluggage said the government would make it easier for open-source suppliers to compete for contracts, making the public sector less reliant on individual suppliers, or locked into proprietary systems."
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UK Goverment IT Chief Backs Open Source Suppliers

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  • clouds in a bottle (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @12:03AM (#33672036)

    hinting at a possible move towards cloud-based solutions to escape licensing restrictions

    They should be careful not to let buzzwords govern their decision.

    A lot of what passes as "the cloud" involves removing control from the user and moving that control to a centrally-managed proprietary virtual host.

    If they happen to choose these sorts of "cloud" applications -- which are becoming increasingly common with the "SaaS" lock-em-in-and-rip-em-off crowd -- they're only going to multiply their licensing headaches.

    Their advisors should make it a point to distinguish between open (commodity) computing platforms and centralized control platforms. Unfortunately, since this is a government body, their advisors are probably paid consultants from those same proprietary-platform companies.

  • For the first time! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @12:12AM (#33672092)
    My interest is somewhat moderated by a distinct feeling of deja'vu - almost as if the last administration made similar claims that apparantly went nowhere? Lets see []....

    The UK Government has announced that it will consider open-source software on an equal footing with proprietary commercial software when awarding multi-million-pound IT contracts.

    In a paper issued on Tuesday, Tom Watson, the Minister for Digital Engagement, said: “Open Source has been one of the most significant cultural developments in IT and beyond over the last two decades: it has shown that individuals, working together over the Internet, can create products that rival and sometimes beat those of giant corporations.”

    And the date on that? February 25, 2009.

  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:12AM (#33673134)

    Yes. The news here is (1) the reduction in multi-million-pound contracts in favour of more, smaller contracts. This means that the bidders themselves can be smaller (UK government tenders have, in the past, often had existing turnover requirements that mean most IT consultancies can't bid on them, leaving the field open to just a few large specialist companies, with most contracts apparently going to Capita), and (2) an apparent _preference_ for open-source solutions, rather than just (as the last government did) a requirement to evaluate open-source solutions as well as closed-source ones.

  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:22AM (#33673162)

    The biggest problem (and I witnessed this 1st hand) is that the people running government IT seem to lack focus on what they want to have delivered, so projects run on and on.

    Yes, but part of the problem here is what the other half of this is addressing: the fact that most government IT contracts go to one or two large companies (I'm primarily thinking Capita here), who don't really have to compete on quality because there's a minimum turnover requirement in the tender that eliminates almost all of the potential competition.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:51AM (#33673298) Journal

    Campaign funds in the UK are capped, and none of the candidates from the major parties has any trouble reaching this cap - they don't need contributions from HP, and all other gifts must be declared on the Register of Members' Interests. We don't have the same system of institutionalised bribery as the USA. The closest thing that we get is Ministers being offered directorships once they leave government in exchange for services rendered while there, but this only really works for bribing the people at the top. The other 400 or so MPs don't tend to get offered this kind of thing.

    The UK has a lot of small IT businesses, while HP has just reduced its UK workforce by around 2,000 and generally uses non-UK workers for these contracts. Employing British people to work on government projects makes financial sense for the government (they will be paying taxes and buying things in the UK), and is likely to be a vote winner.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:49AM (#33674794)

    Thank you, Sir Humphrey.

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