Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has announced plans for government departments to start using open source alternatives to Microsoft Office.
Speaking at a government event last week, the Minister said: “Over the past few years we’ve moved away from a small oligopoly of IT suppliers to create a more open market. And yet the software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies."
In his speech, he quoted the example of a UK-based small business offering a hosting contract for £60,000, while a much larger supplier had bid £4 million for the same contract - creating a saving of 98.5% for the taxpayer.
“I want to see a greater range of software used, so people have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular propriety brand.
“In the first instance, this should help departments to do something as simple as sharing documents with each other more easily,” the Minister added.
Besides ease of sharing documents, Maude claims the move to open source will save taxpayers money and open the market for smaller IT companies.
The announcement follows new rules for central government IT contracts announced last week designed to give small to medium enterprises a better chance at securing government work, while also saving money for the taxpayer.
Unfortunately the Minister’s announcement did not contain any timeline for the proposed shift to open source.