The Department for Work and Pensions – one of Whitehall’s biggest spending departments – will run trials of open-source software next year.
“It is the department’s intention to trial within the next 12 months, a pilot of up to 1,000 desktops to test proof of concept for open source,” a DWP spokeswoman told The Guardian
The DWP currently uses computers running Windows XP, Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer 6.
The top three suppliers to the department at the moment are IBM, HP and BT but last month the Cabinet Office published an open-source ‘procurement toolkit’ for the public sector on its website with the purpose of levelling the playing field for open-source and proprietary software.
Open-source has been a hot topic around government IT recently and has been used as the proof of the current government’s commitment to new technologies.
The DWP’s Mike Truran spoke about the initiative at the Datacenter Dynamics Convergence conference. Quoted in a report by ComputerWeekly, he explained that the department is committed to open source – in line with the coalition government’s IT strategy.
He said that “If the pilot works we will take it forward.” As the toolkit published clearly states, cost savings from avoiding proprietary software are not the only motivation for the government to encourage the use of open source; another important aspect is to encourage competition and improve control over IT projects by preventing ‘vendor lock-in’.
Additionally, the government’s ICT Asset and Services Knowledgebase, which will be used to record the reuse of existing open-source solutions, will be launched in the new year, following a tender in July.