There has been plenty of talk about the government reducing costs by following an open source strategy recently but TechEye has discovered that in practice the proprietary software companies are still appearing as top choice for IT procurement.
MP Tom Watson is having a major challenge persuading a large scale shift to open source, despite promises by Cabinet Officer Francis Maude.
Maude has said that there needs to be a level playing field for open source to reduce public spending and Watson is very keen to see this become a reality.
TechEye spoke to Gerry Gavigan at the Open Source Consortium to find out why it appears so difficult to bring about change.
Gavigan believes that the issue is about guidance across the many areas of government and a failure to advise the right people and an inability to co-operate on procurement.
He told TechEye that the problem arises from a lack of force from the Cabinet Office in putting open standards and interoperability in place.
“When you look across government it is hard to see any strategic decisions being made. The government needs to make an overriding decision on the implementation of open standards before open source software can gain a foothold. Without this using open source software can actually cost more.”
This appears to be the problem. Because departments are used to finding their own IT solutions they are actually discovering that individual set-ups in open source are more expensive than their proprietary counterparts.
Gavigan told TechEye; “The Cabinet Office is supposed to be the strategic arm of government, but it needs an overarching strategy on open standards if open source is to work. If this can be done then the benefits are clear, interoperability will save money over time.”