This morning our celebrated Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke to some collected press about how he plans to save the nation £4 billion before 2012 on the government’s back office functions.
Open source technology was cited as the ethos on which Digital Britain will be built. The PM used the shared services centre in the Department for Work and Pensions (the Dole), which already supports 140,000 staff in three departments and plans to take on four more in the next year, as an example of what he wanted.
Needless to say the Open Source companies are thrilled. Steve Shine, executive vice president of worldwide operations, Ingres, the world’s largest open source database provider released a statement saying that this was just the beginning.
However, he points out that often these plans to introduce more open source projects to government do not come to fruition.
“Over the past 12 months the office of the CIO has continually pointed to open source as the key to reducing capital expenditure on large public sector IT projects,” Shine continued. “[We] have not seen the enforcement of these policies at a practical level and so view this announcement cautiously.”
“Right now there is a very large negotiation underway to renew Oracle’s contract with the MOD which in theory should be put to competitive tender but sadly is being conducted behind closed doors.”
TechEye have asked Oracle directly if they would like to comment on this. So far we have not been able to talk to anyone from the software giant. All we wanted was Oarcle’s side of the story.
Microsoft too, who are also long term contractors with the government, is unable to help.
TechEye didn’t really know what to do that this point? We have the government telling us that we will have open source, the open source experts telling us not to hold our breath and the software giants not talking at all.
So we have decided to write directly to Gordon Brown for some answers. You’ll find below a transcript of our letter*. He has to talk to us right?
We’ll keep you updated.
Transcript of letter
Dear Mr Brown,
I read a transcript of your speech this morning with interest. Especially the part where you have pledged to cut government spending by £4 billion on back office functions.
One of these functions is the renewal of software maker Oracle’s contract with the MOD. Will there be the opportunity to open up the public sector IT procurement process so that other companies who may be cheaper bit for a chance to be the government contractor.
It is my understanding that often the public sector IT procurement process is closed and this strikes me neither as fair nor particularly democratic. If I have the details wrong in any way then please do let me know.
I look forward to hearing your response and good luck in the next few weeks with the Budget and run up to the Election.
*yes letter, you cannot email the Prime Minister