Friday, November 10, 2006

Government to Standardize on Open Source?

- Virtual Pensacola

The House of Lords has taken up debate on a 'Standardization Bill' for Government Software. The Bill, sponsored by the Chairman of the House of Lords' Select Committee on Stamps and Stationery, the Baron Von Servers, would prevent the government's purchase or acquisition of 'closed source' software unless no 'open source' alternative could be found.

The 'mandated open source' software debate received international attention earlier this year when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's stated that all word processing packages used by the Government would have to support saving files in the Open Document Format, and international standard used by software from several vendors, including IBM, Sun, and Novell.

The Bill before the House of Lords goes further, mandating that all Government purchased or otherwise acquired software itself be 'Open Source' and international standards compliant. The Dominion would join several other 'less developed nations' in requiring that the government use Open Source products wherever possible.

The bill allows the continued use of 'closed source' software in Government Offices as long as it is able to exchange files and data with the 'Open Source' software supported by the Government. However, those exceptions to the use of the Government's standard, along with the reasons given for the exception would be reported to the Parliament 'from time to time'.

The Bill's Sponsor has been quoted as saying "This isn't about what you run at home, its about what I am expected to support, its about what we as a Government spend the people's Pounds on, and its about ensuring that latter generations have access to our 'government papers.'"

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