Monday, May 17, 2010

Open source systems in government

In 2009 the UK government announced a new approach to open source. It ensures that open source is treated on a level playing field with proprietary solutions. But I think the government should go much further and use open source as the foundation for its core systems.

It's clear that our current approach to government IT is badly broken. Taxpayers have suffered £26bn of losses as a result of a string of computing disasters involving massively late, over-budget, and broken systems.

We must move to a new model that avoids the reasons behind this catastrophe: reliance on massive system revolutions rather than incremental improvement, lock-in to vendors, a lack of government understanding and control of IT, and the dominance of large suppliers at the expense of small and medium sized businesses.

Contrast this approach with open source groups such as the Linux Foundation or Mozilla. They also develop complex software used by millions of people around the world, following these principles:

  • An army of developers, from huge corporates to individual developers in their spare time
  • A community of developers, carefully cultivated and encouraged by the foundation, with shared values
  • Total freedom from lock-in, using open source licenses
  • Focus on steady evolution rather then complete revolution

In this approach, the major government departments should set up their own IT foundations, with carefully written missions and a budget to encourage community participation (via public prizes, conferences, and total openness in the technical approach). Individual workers, or small, medium and large businesses alike could volunteer to develop the code, as a charity or in the hope of being hired full time.

There would be two additional benefits to developing open source government systems. Firstly, governments around the world could share development costs by contributing together. This could save the UK government huge amounts in the long term. Secondly, building a community of government IT developers in the UK would provide a huge benefit to the economy - building the skills and experience of volunteers (including students) in just the areas likely to require staffing.

So I believe it's time to get much more ambitious about open source in government. We should be using it not just to purchase cheap infrastructure, but to actually lead the development of core systems. Doing so would help free us from many of the issues plaguing government IT, but also provide a real public benefit to the citizens of this country.

36 comments:

Shashin said...

Chris, Very much agree that open source is ready for enterprise and government use and will bring significant savings which are much needed.

韋于倫成 said...

All roads lead to Rome. 堅持自己所選! ........................................

韋于倫成 said...

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宜欣 said...

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韋于倫成 said...

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韋成 said...

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慶天 said...

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熙辰 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。...........................................................................

家vRegg明 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德..................................................

峻君 said...

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saa said...

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兆以 said...

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毅筠 said...

Where did you purchase this product?.................................................................

怡伶 said...

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世禾 said...

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皇銘 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債.................................................................

孫陽泉 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債.................................................................

郁雨郁雨 said...

累死了…來去看看文章轉換心情~.................................................................                           

文辰文辰 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

葉婷 said...

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于庭 said...

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楊儀卉 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

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玉苓玉苓 said...

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育隆 said...

期待你的下次更新喔^____^..................................................................

JasonBirk佳琪 said...

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淑蔡承均dgd周真淑ii淑 said...

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趙坤然趙坤然 said...

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張怡 said...

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陳彥祥陳彥祥 said...

我們老得太快,卻聰明得太遲。..................................................

俊成俊成 said...

good, excellent, nice job!!............................................................

陳佑發 said...

從來愛都不知它的深度,非得等到別離的時候..................................................................

楊儀卉 said...

人生中最好的禮物就是屬於自己的一部份............................................................

淑福淑福淑福 said...

要拼才會贏,生活就像戰爭…什麼時候才有和平啊…>"<..................................................