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Think tank: Open source requires cultural shift of UK councils

Joinup - Local government services in the United Kingdom should consider switching to open source software solutions, recommends the Local Government Information Unit, a think tank, in a report published this Tuesday. "The collective thinking and cost-effectiveness that open source providers offer cannot be matched in terms of expertise [and] of value for money by the traditional proprietary software providers. This cultural shift will open the door for a new era of innovative IT solutions that can transform local government services, empowering staff and delivering unrivalled value to taxpayers."

Despite encouragement from the central government, open source "has, as yet, failed to catch-on with local government outside of niche, back-office, applications", the LGIU writes. The think tank blames IT vendor lock-in, hindering migration to for instance open source office productivity tools such as LibreOffice, or Apache OpenOffice.

"For many years, expensive mega-vendors have dominated the IT procurement space in the UK public sector", LGIU writes. "In this environment, the notion that buying into costly, inflexible contracts is somehow the 'safe option' has taken hold and led to numerous projects that often finish over budget and over time."