The Liberal Democrats have hit out at the government’s failure to use more open source software, three years after it pledged to avoid “lock-in” to proprietary systems.
The government published a policy document, “Open Source Software: use within UK government” in 2004, promising to consider open source alongside proprietary products in IT procurements.
Contracts would be awarded “on a value for money basis”, the document said, adding: “UK Government will seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services.”
But research produced by the Lib Dems shows most government departments use a minimal amount of open source software, with the Department of Work and Pensions using none at all and figures of less than 1% at the former Department for Education and Skills and Northern Ireland Office.
Only the Department for International Development used a substantial amount of open source software – with 30% open source. The Department of Transport’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency used 33% open source software but across the rest of the department, use was “very low”.
At the Treasury, open source software was used on 6% of the department’s servers, while less than 5% of software at the Defra agriculture department was open source, the research gleaned from parliamentary questions revealed.
The amount of open source software used at the Ministry of Defence, Department of Health, Department for Communities and Local Government and the former Department of Constitutional Affairs was “not known”, apart from a single DoH library system.