OPEN SOURCE VENDORS have leapt onto a report published by the Parliamentary Public Administration Systems Committee (PASC) that slated the IT procurement style of the UK government.
In the PASC's report, entitled "Government and IT - A Recipe For Rip-Offs: Time For A New Approach" the committee found that "The Government's own information about its IT is woefully inadequate" and that the "government is currently over-reliant on a small oligopoly of large suppliers, which some witnesses referred to as a cartel." It reported that the average spend in some departments is a "ridiculous" £3,500 for a desktop PC, figures that would make even an Apple fanboi blush.
The INQUIRER got in touch with HP, the government's biggest IT supplier, for its view on the matter and HP referred us to a statement issued by Intellect, which it claims speaks for the industry as a whole. The short statement read, "The recent PASC report on government and IT includes allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and collusion, and suggestions of a ‘cartel' operating in the ICT industry. The implication is that leaders of public sector businesses in our industry have been involved in criminal activity. As the trade body for the ICT sector, we want to make it clear that this is not the case and cartels do not exist in our industry. On the contrary, this is a highly competitive market. Intellect would cooperate with any investigation into such allegations, but we believe it would be a waste of public money."
In June, Nick Wilson, managing director of HP UK, told our sister IT news web site V3.co.uk that the public sector "buys badly" and it seems he wasn't far wrong. Now open source vendors are claiming that the time is right for the UK Government to embrace alternatives in order to deliver better value-for-money.
Phil Scott-Lewis, head of UK public sector at Red Hat said, "It is clear that openness has to be at the heart of public sector IT policy - that means openness in procurement process and openness in the technology being selected and deployed. This report is an opportunity for government to spell the end of the costly proprietary lock-in that has seen some projects spiral out of control. This report should add further weight and urgency to government's commitment to open source technology and drive the introduction of open standards throughout the IT procurement process so that interoperability and openness can once again place delivering responsive services for citizens and business at the heart of government IT policy."
Bertrand Diard, CEO and co-founder of Talend also advocated the use of open standards, saying, "I find it bizarre that given the enormous emphasis placed on reducing the budget deficit, a simple change in direction on procurement, that could cut swathes from spending, continues to be ignored. Open standards and open source software will provide the public sector with flexibility and scalability that not only reduces costs, it also implements with existing legacy systems."
There's no doubt that the PASC's report on UK Government IT procurement is damning, with a number of firms cozying up to the Government and getting some very lucrative contracts out of it. The insistence to ignore open source, whether it be operating systems or application software is another area that should be looked at very closely, because not all of the £3,500 that the UK Government spens on a desktop PC goes for the hardware.
Perhaps the government should considering cutting closed source software and the use of closed standards and using the money it saves on vital services. We're pretty sure that won't result in strikes or demonstrations. µ
So that's why she's smiling…
How many Zuckbucks to the pound?
Alexa, is this exploitation?