Open Source action in UK government

I’ve been reading the revised Open Source, Open Standards and ReUse: Government Action Plan – it’s surprising (and heartening) to see this has existed in one form or another since as far back as 2004.

The key changes for this version are:

  • suppliers have to show evidence they’ve considered open source options – hopefully this will be more than a quick trawl through SourceForge
  • ‘shadow license costs’ have to be shown in calculations to take account of previous purchases of ‘perpetual’ licenses – apparently in some cases this could make software license fees for a project appear as zero!
  • all purchases have to be on the basis of of re-use across the government sector – so no need to pay again if a system moves to the cloud in the future
  • This all sounds great for the open source community; let’s also hope that increased openness in government means that we’ll be able check the Action Plan is actually being followed!

    By the way a great example of open source in action on government data is They Work For You, which cleans up Hansard and makes more accessible – search is powered by Xapian.

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