Tories back open source for Whitehall

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Tories back open source for Whitehall

Shadow chancellor backs the penguin.

The open source movement won a vote from the UK Conservative Party this week, when Shadow Chancellor George Osborne announced his intention to create a level playing field for open source software in the UK.

Osborne made the comments in a speech at the Royal Society of Arts, claiming that the move could save taxpayers over £600 million ($1.48 million) a year.

The MP also announced the appointment of Mark Thompson of the Judge Business School at Cambridge University to advise the Conservatives on how Britain can become the open source leader in Europe.

"Ever since I visited the headquarters of Mozilla in Palo Alto I have become a user of its open source Firefox web browser. I am not alone. Almost 20 per cent of online Europeans use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer," said Osborne.

After reeling off a list of examples where open source software has saved money, Osborne claimed that the problem in the UK is that cultural change has not taken place in government.

"There is not a level playing field for open source software. As it stands, too many companies are frozen out of government IT contracts, stifling competition and driving up costs," he said.

"Not a single open source company is included in Catalyst, the Government's list of approved IT suppliers. All too often, a government IT system is incompatible with other types of software, which stifles competition and hampers innovation."

The shadow chancellor maintained that the government's entire approach needs to be overhauled.

Osborne estimated that Whitehall could cut at least five per cent from its annual IT bill if more open source software was used as part of a more effective procurement strategy. "That adds up to over £600m a year ($1.48 million)," he said.
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