UK Open Source policy

UK Cabinet Office Minister of State, Douglas Alexander MP, has announced a new Policy on Open Source Software Use Within UK Government.

As The Register, I also found it slightly amusing to find that the policy is available for download in Microsoft Word format only on the OGC-website (for other formats, go to the e-envoy).

But rest assured, this is potentially powerful stuff!

The key decisions of this policy are as follows:

  • “UK Government will consider OSS solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a value for money basis.
  • UK Government will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments.
  • UK Government will seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services.
  • UK Government will consider obtaining full rights to bespoke software code or customisations of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) software it procures wherever this achieves best value for money.
  • UK Government will explore further the possibilities of using OSS as the default exploitation route for Government funded R&D software.”

These five bullets are potentially an explosive cocktail, but there is room for interpretation. For example, what does “… will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments” mean? More concretely,
does this mean that the e-GIF4 SOAP/UDDI lock-in will change in e-GIF5, allowing for RESTed as well as SOAPed methods?

On this point, there seems to be some confusion between Open Source and open standards, but who cares 🙂

At any rate, as leader of the GOL-IN Open Source effort, I am pleased to see this initiative, and will make sure the people working with the policy gets an invitation to an upcoming conference about Open Source in eGov, I’m involved in organising.

Oh my: www.govtalk.gov.uk
: The site is currently being updated.
Site down since 19th July 2002.

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