Becta and AlphaPlus and a lot of crossness

Over the last few years Becta, the government’s advisers to education on technology, have been consistently increasing their level of interest and support for Free and Open Source Software. Today they surprised a lot of folk by awarding a contract relating to Free and Open Source software to a little consultancy called AlphaPlus. No I haven’t heard of them either. There was quite a bit of competition for this tender, and some of those who were unlucky this time, including our friend Mark Taylor at the Open Source Consortium, are struggling to understand the decision. You can read Mark’s reflective musings in an open letter here. It doesn’t appear to me that AlphaPlus have done anything untoward in the process, most reactions I have seen were along the lines of “Who?” rather than “Not them again!”. I am sure the education sector in the UK will continue on the path of software Freedom, in fact I wouldn’t be shocked if Freedom 1 (The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs) became mandatory for all software used in Education. I am sure that as schools continue on their path they will need more help and assistance which they will get via procurement processes (procurement just means “buying stuff from people who like filling in forms”) and in these processes contracts will be awarded to big companies and small companies and companies full of educationalists and others full of geeks. Some you win, most you lose.

We at The Open Learning Centre congratulate AlphaPlus Consultancy on winning this contract and wish them the best of luck in delivering a fantastic solution that will just encourage more and more future contracts to go to deserving little consulting companies 🙂

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