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Open source: Is the government doing enough?

Computing - The promotion of open source and open standards is a key tenet of the government's ICT strategy, but did the publication of the Open Source Procurement Toolkit earlier this month and recent government initiatives provide the boost needed to increase understanding and procurement of open source within the public sector?

Open source is currently in use across several government departments, with Drupal powering the Cabinet Office website and some DirectGov services, Transport for London's Oystercard using an open source infrastructure, and the Department of Health using open source to work with EU partners.

In addition, some departments are creating their own open source technologies, such as the Department for the Climate Change, which has created FoxOpen. However, most of the technology used by government remains proprietary, with the Department for Work and Pensions, for example, still using comprehensive proprietary products from single vendors such as IBM.

The government's open source policy was established in 2004, but CIO for the Home Office and the senior responsibility officer for open source and open standards, Robin Pape, acknowledged in conversation with Computing that there had been limited progress towards a truly level playing field for open source. "This meant that opportunities for better value solutions were being missed," he said.