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Open source in local government, and other unicorns

Computing - Oligopolies are unhealthy. When a small number of firms dominates a market, customers are left with a dearth of choice, and in the worst cases the dominant firms collude to raise prices.

And “oligopoly” describes fairly accurately the situation regarding  software procurement within UK government. In fact, when it comes to office software “monopoly” might be a more appropriate description: it’s basically Microsoft or Microsoft. It’s estimated that UK government departments have spent over £200m of public money on Microsoft Office applications since 2010.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude admitted earlier this year: “The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.” And Microsoft’s dominance of Whitehall appears at first glance to be reflected too in local government. When Computing spoke to Jos Creese, CIO of Hampshire County Council, and holder of one of the largest IT budgets in local government according to one inside source, he explained that Microsoft works out cheaper than open source