Govt CIO acts on open source omission

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Govt CIO acts on open source omission

Parliamentary Services adjusts tender to consider open source options.

The Australian Government's acting CIO has stepped in to ensure open source software is considered as part of one of the largest software tenders currently on offer in Canberra.

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has counselled the Parliamentary Services Department (DPS) over its compliance with the Government’s Open Source Policy after the DPS released a request for tender (DPS11097) to revamp its integrated library system (ILS).

The open source policy requires agencies to insert a statement into any Request for Tender (RFT) that they will consider open source software equally alongside proprietary software. The department's original RFT did not reflect this commitment.

A spokesperson for DPS told iTnews that the department didn't feel that it was mandatory to refer specifically to the open source policy in the RFT.

AGIMO’s acting CIO Glenn Archer disagreed. AGIMO has since been in touch with DPS' procurement team to discuss the matter and clarified the intent of the policy. 

“I understand that DPS will be reviewing their procurement activity as a result of these discussions,” Archer told iTnews.

An addendum has subsequently been issued to the Request For Tender, stating that DPS encourages suppliers to submit and/or develop open source software for the tender and that DPS will consider open source software equally alongside proprietary software.

The DPS request for tender is one of the more substantial software transformation projects available in 2012.

DPS’ current Integrated Library System (ILS) - SirsiDynix Symphony version - has reached the end of its life and requires upgrading or replacing.

The department is seeking a systems vendor able to migrate approximately 200,000 item records from the existing system. The RFT states that it is looking to purchase a Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) software package that provides an Integrated Library System.

There are several well known open source ILS offerings on the market such as Koha and Evergreen.

The department's original RFT asked that "if the proposed system includes any software components licensed under open source software licenses (e.g. GNU Public License, Apache License), these software components must be identifiable and separable should DPS require it."

A DPS spokesperson said the department was “committed to using open source software where applicable.

“This particular requirement is stated in this way so that software may be separate and identifiable - on occasion open licences will not fully integrate due to lack of thorough testing which risks other systems."

He said there was a risk open source elements could undermine "full integration".

"It could potentially cause DPS considerable cost and effort to transition out the software should there be any compatibility, security, scalability, transferability, support or manageability issues," he said.

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