Saturday, 29 January 2011

Australian government now to actively consider Open Source

The Australian Government has just released a policy stating that Open Source must be actively considered alongside proprietary Software. It notes:
Australian Government agencies must actively and fairly consider all types of available software (including but not limited to open source software and proprietary software) through their ICT procurement processes.

The Government’s previous policy, established in 2005, was one of ‘informed neutrality.’ This meant that agencies took an unbiased position that did not favour open source or proprietary software and procured the solution that was the best ’value for money’ and ‘fit for purpose’ for their specific requirement. Since then, there has been an increase in the maturity of the open source software products and the use of open source software by governments around the world. In recent years, many governments have revised their policies to increase the adoption of open source software.

This revised Australian Government policy on open source software will ensure that we maintain international best practice and that our purchases of software will continue to reflect best value for money for the Government.

This is a great first step, however, government purchasing practices will continue to inadvertently favour proprietary software until we see guidelines on how to compare the value Open Source and Proprietary Software which includes tools to assess the holistic value of Open Source. This is explained in the article Governments don’t know how to buy free software. A good starting point would be the European Union Guideline for Public administrations on Procurement and Open Source Software.