Open source software: how it saves governments money

Tux - open source mascot

Open source in the UK Home Office

The latest Computer Weekly has two interesting articles about open source software in government. The first, Home Office saves £10m by opting for open source, details huge cost savings achieved by the UK government. This includes projects to move its international border control system to the JBoss software. The article also busts some myths about free and open source software. One particularly common belief is that FOSS software is less secure because the source code is widely available. I have seen students write this in exam answers many times. In fact, there are many arguments that FOSS is more secure.

Open source in the Met Office

The second article, Met Office says open source is ‘backbone of our operations’, briefly explains how FOSS is used in the Met Office, and why. The article contains quite a telling quote, which is relevant to ITGS student project and IT Systems in Organistions:

In order to see if a CRM system worked in that environment, it opted for an open source package to allow them to test the software. “Often [government IT] has started on a journey without testing if it is desirable or achievable”

Large scale computer projects are often fraught with problems, and many progress before it is realised that the chosen solution won’t meet the client’s requirements. We have this before with the US Air Force project, the Canadian Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Integrated Case Management System, and many other examples. One advantage of FOSS in this respect is that a test rollout can be tried. Additionally, the software can be customised relatively easily if the client has any special needs.

Open source software is becoming increasingly popular in governments across the world. You can read more about these real life applications of FOSS in Examples of FOSS in governments.

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