Open source software could be a key element to the government's new IT strategy due in Spring - and Whitehall has told its major suppliers to offer more open source options, says Bill McCluggage, deputy government CIO.
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On Monday this week McCluggage met with top-level IT suppliers and lobby group Open Forum Europe to discuss a move to open source and to encourage greater adoption.
"The engagement strategy has to address the systems integrators issue, we can't buy what's not offered. The government is serious about open source," he told Computer Weekly.
The meeting - which was attended by Fujitsu, Computacenter, IBM, Steria, CSC, BT, Capita, Atos Origin, HP, Accenture, Logica, Siemens and Deloitte - was the first in a series of forums. "The government is now looking to work on an open source implementation group. We will be looking at how open source could feature in our new ICT strategy," said McCluggage.
There are already some areas of government where open source is used. The Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) uses Linux as an operating system on some projects, and the Department of Health also uses open source on some major projects. But despite calls for more open source software, most IT projects proceed using the often proprietary standards and products that the major IT suppliers propose.