Whitehall breaks open source promise

Many departments in Whitehall appear to have given up on promises to spend more on open source, and are instead continuing to lay out huge sums on proprietary software.

Following a number of BBC freedom of information requests it has been revealed millions are still being spent on software from big name vendors.

This is despite claims from Francis Maude that there will be a ‘level playing field’, centred around the government’s promises to slash public spending.  Even the Queen’s neighbourhood has been looking to the cheap alternative.

One example is the Home Office, which provided a list of spending on IT software amounting to £26 million worth of proprietary software over 18 months. Of this, £21 million went to just one firm, Raytheon Systems.

The Ministry of Defence meanwhile splashed out £40.7 million between February 2009 and March 2011 with a contract from a major supplier.

One of the problems the government faces is that there is currently no “centrally held record of software (proprietary or open source) held across the MOD”.

Despite progressively moving towards a decentralised system, a lack of clarity on spending cannot help in implementing open source software.

Actually putting contracts into place is something that appears to be troubling Whitehall too, with a lack of expertise highlighted in some quarters.

See a Google docs breakdown of various department’s spending here.