UK Government Backs Open Source

2 minute read
Dee-Ann LeBlanc avatar

The government of the United Kingdom stated in 2004 that its policy was to "seek to use open source where it gave the best value for money to the taxpayer in delivering public services."

In 2009, the UK government has decided to increase the pace of open source adoption. To achieve this goal, they have outlined a ten-step action plan.

The Action Plan

The Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: Govenment Action Plan focuses on a number of initiatives toward increasing the adoption of open source and open standards throughout the UK government.

Issues this action plan addresses include:

  • Make it clearer that open standards and the potential for re-use across the public sector should be factored into procurement decisions, along with evaluating open source solutions alongside proprietary offerings to determine which gives the best value per taxpayer dollar.
  • Prepare government IT and Procurement personnel to evaluate and implement open source solutions.
  • Share open source evaluations, components and solutions across all UK government entities.
  • Evaluate open source projects for maturity, security and sustainability to offer list of recommended products and implementations.
  • Challenge suppliers to demonstrate they have the ability to deal with open source and have actively considered open source solutions as part of their proposals.
  • Seek examples from other countries and sectors to better understand available projects and product and better challenge suppliers.
  • Work with systems integrators and software suppliers to open their solutions to meet open standards and facilitate re-use.
  • Specify requirements by reference to open standards and require compliance to these standards where feasible.
  • Purchase solutions with a standard contract clause stipulating that they can be re-used elsewhere in the public sector.
  • Communicate this policy widely and expand as necessary.

Overall this action plan and policy update should allow for taxpayer savings in terms of paying less purchase and effort duplication and avoid vendor lock-in regarding proprietary formats. Avoiding one-hundred percent open source solutions gives the government the flexibility to use proprietary options when they turn out to be the best available.

Learning Opportunities

Further Resources

If you are interested in further information on this issue:

  • Read the full introduction to and text of the plan
  • Read or join in the conversation
  • In posts related to this discussion that you want the UK government to be aware of, be sure to use the tag #ukgovOSS


Join the conversation about the Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: Government Action Plan.

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