Public sector urged to use open source

Public sector organisations should consider using open source software on desktops as well as servers, the government's spending...

Public sector organisations should consider using open source software on desktops as well as servers, the government's spending watchdog said last week.

In a report on software licensing, the Public Accounts Committee said open source software might provide government bodies with a "viable alternative to existing software suppliers for a broad range of functions, including desktop applications".

Using more open source software, would "open up the market-place to wider competition and potential improvements in value for money," the MPs said.

A series of open source trials involving central government departments, local authorities and police forces are due to begin this month with the backing of the Office of Government Commerce.

The PAC report said, "If the results show that open source software is practical, particularly in respect to integration with existing systems, departments should be ready to apply the lessons learned to their future purchasing decisions."

The PAC praised the OGC for negotiating licensing discounts with software suppliers such as Microsoft, Sun, Lotus, Corel and Oracle. The deals have cut the cost to the public purse of software licences by £49m, with a potential £100m saving over the three years from 2002.

  • The NHS national programme for IT is in discussions with Microsoft about the provision of NHS-specific versions of Windows and Office.

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