Open Source Software Struggles With Policy Vacuum

This is lifted straight from Dan Jellinek’s e-Government bulletin (subscription details at the end). I believe it relates to the UK only:

Public sector take-up of open source software is being hampered by a failure to offer staff proper guidance when IT procurement decisions are made, according to a survey of E-Government Bulletin readers.

When asked if their organisations have a policy of considering open source software (OSS), some 47 per cent of respondents agreed, while 20 per cent disagreed and a further 33 per cent didn’t know, the survey found. When asked to identify the main barrier to take-up from a range of options, lack of policy was cited by 19 per cent of respondents, second only to lack of awareness, chosen by 20 per cent. Lack of in- house expertise was chosen by 16 per cent of respondents.

Readers offered a wide range of reasons why greater public sector use of OSS would be a positive move. Lower overall costs were identified as the main driver, cited by 52 per cent of respondents, while 19 per cent identified greater interoperability than proprietary technology and 12 per cent opted for “other reasons”.

These included concerns about the duty of the public sector to publish content that is as easily accessible as possible. “The key driver is to ensure government information is held in an open, accessible format, in such a way that it does not compel the public to use a particular proprietary supplier’s software. For true open government, it is important to avoid any proprietary lock-in when generating, exchanging or publishing information,” said one respondent.

Some 62 per cent of the respondents worked in local government, 15 per cent in central government, and the remaining 23 per cent in other public sector organisations.

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About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
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