UK Gov Updates Open Source Policy

Remember the Cabinet Office Open Source, Open Standards Re-Use: Action Plan that came out last February?

Well, they’ve updated it. And the bits that they have changed are most welcome:

4. This Strategy does not represent a wholesale change to the Open Source Open Standards Reuse Strategy published in February 2009. It has been updated to take account of comments posted on www.writetoreply.org. The key changes to policy are:

  • We will require our suppliers to provide evidence of consideration of open source solutions during procurement exercises – if this evidence is not provided, bidders are likely to be disqualified from the procurement.
  • Where a ‘perpetual licence’ has been purchased from a proprietary supplier (which gives the appearance of zero cost to that project), we will require procurement teams to apply a ‘shadow’ licence price to ensure a fair price
    comparison of total cost of ownership. We have also defined the shadow licence cost as either:

      1. the list price of that licence from the supplier with no discounts applied, or
      2. the public sector price that has been agreed through a ‘Crown’ agreement.
  • We have clarified that we expect all software licences to be purchased on the basis of reuse across the public sector, regardless of the service environment it is operating within. This means that when we launch the Government Cloud, there will be no additional cost to the public sector of transferring licences into the Cloud.

Which is nice :-)

But unfortunately, as has been said widely before and again with this update, this is an action plan without any teeth. There is no enforcement, there is no monitoring and there are no penalties for not implementing the plan.

It’s all been said already so this is a short post. Until the Cabinet Office can get this implemented at a departmental level across the government and enforced, it remains essentially a "nice-to-have" objective but not much more.

The Cabinet Office have an Open Source aggregation service that collects various commentary from around the world based on various tags. This one needs the #ukgovOSS tag if you want to write your own piece or even tweet/dent about it.

PS: We have also made a remark or two about this update on our recently started (admittedly rather quietly) and more business-centric Open Source blog that’s on our main web site. We’ve called the blog The Way Out. Please feel free to drop by or add to your feed readers.

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