Category Archives: Blog

UK Gov ICT – the future includes Finland (still not in a good way)

FSFE Finland is considering taking the Finnish government to Court to enforce the rules on procurement; among other things looking to enforce specifications based on functionalities and standards, rather than specific products or certain brands.

So first the Slovakian government is taken to Court because of a compulsory requirement to use Microsoft and now Finland also in the EU and again there are some interesting parallels for the way UK public sector ICT is procured.

Continue reading UK Gov ICT – the future includes Finland (still not in a good way)

When is a saving not a saving? (plus ça change)

We were not particularly whelmed that the government used the threat of adopting open source software simply as a bargaining tool to get a few Microsoft licences free of charge. Particularly as we think it amounts to illegal state aid. However, given that the government has just announced it has saved £65m on software licence negotiations with Microsoft and Oracle we mustn’t grumble…

But has it?

Continue reading When is a saving not a saving? (plus ça change)

Dear Cabinet Office… about your Open Standards Board

At the end of a long second round table meeting to discuss the government’s open standards consultation one of your officials took the opportunity to “sell-in” the shiny new open standards board. She seemed surprised when I pointed out that this initiative cut across the consultation. So, as promised, here’s my explanation.

Continue reading Dear Cabinet Office… about your Open Standards Board

Open Standards: it’s the network effect, stupid

A new policy procurement note has just been issued as part of the process of reforming government ICT procurement, and it includes references to open standards (when they work out what that means) and open source software.

As before they are to be used it all hinges on what you mean by “whenever possible” not forgetting that “wherever possible” includes “nowhere”.

In passing we note that in future, contracts are to be capped at £100 million except when they aren’t but what we really want to discuss is the advice in paragraph 11.4:

  • The use of open source and open standards should be used whenever possible and where it represents a value for money solution, allowing department to re-use code, designs, templates and ensuring that work is not duplicated.

because we’re not sure it offers any advice at all and not because of “wherever possible”

Continue reading Open Standards: it’s the network effect, stupid

Remember that level playing field for Open Source Software?

Just this week, in a reply to an MP’s request for an update on government progress to open standards and open source software the Minister for the Cabinet Office replied:

We are strongly in favour of using open source software wherever possible. We have established that that can cut the cost of providing digital services massively, while producing better results. On a recent visit to silicon valley, I and a number of colleagues found businesses that were capable of cutting those costs on a massive scale.

But don’t get too excited. As we said:

and also that

and here’s one they prepared later.

Continue reading Remember that level playing field for Open Source Software?

At last UK Gov has published its open standards consultation – but it is progress?

We were concerned that Cabinet Office inexplicably formally withdrew the first ever govt definition of an open standard.

However and at last they’ve published consultation on a new definition.

First off, credit where credit is due. The government is proposing royalty free open standards. Their definition is about as good as it can get.

That’s the good news.

Continue reading At last UK Gov has published its open standards consultation – but it is progress?

Select Committee: internet unsafe on a PC* (who knew?)

The Commons Science and Technology has just published a report on cyber crime

Apparently the internet can provide an opportunity for criminals and criminal behaviour and there are dangers for everyday users of the internet too.

No sh*t, Sherlock? What else?

*a personal computer running Microsoft Windows according to the BCS

Continue reading Select Committee: internet unsafe on a PC* (who knew?)

In another serendipitous co-incidence UK gov announces OSS desktop trial

As I observed during the Governmet IT saga, AKA “Govt IT – a recipe for rip-offs”:

A simple analysis of the time line of the Inquiry shows a remarkable tendency for the Government and those we might consider to be in its team to publish material just before key Inquiry dates, or on one occasion handed to the Committee Chairman during an evidence session. With that in mind we were curious to see what else had been published in the last few days that might be relevant to this report.

So really, when the London School of Economics published a report Total cost of ownership of open source software (pdf) detailing all the ways open source is a good idea; I had no excuse not to have got out there to look for some government synchronicity.

And lo, there was…

Continue reading In another serendipitous co-incidence UK gov announces OSS desktop trial