The UK Government recently launched an open source toolkit on the Cabinet Office website, to provide a level playing field for open source solutions against traditional proprietary software vendors. But Jim Shaw, general manager for Europe at Acquia believes that cultural barriers and unfounded fears about the technology are holding departments back from making huge savings.
“The Government has made huge strides in enabling a fair hearing for open source providers alongside traditional proprietary software vendors in the public sector procurement process, but much more needs to be done,” said Shaw. “An entrenched culture of scepticism against open source adoption is still rife in the public sector and these barriers need to be broken down for the huge range of benefits the technology offers to be realised.”
There are only a few notable examples of open source adoption across the UK Government to date, with Drupal powering the Cabinet Office website and some DirectGov services, Transport for London’s Oystercard using an open source infrastructure, and the Department of Health using open source to work with EU partners.
Shaw continued, “With potentially huge savings to be made through efficient public sector IT initiatives, the UK cannot afford to maintain a lukewarm approach to open source adoption. Other major economies, including the US and France, have a much wider use of the software at all levels of Government and it’s time for the UK to accelerate its open source adoption to deliver innovation and much needed savings for the long term.”