Open source procurement plan fails in Australia

More than 12 months after the Department of Commerce in New South Wales approved suppliers of open source software and services to state government agencies, there hasn’t been a single sale.

It has also prompted a review to evaluate and improve the contract.

Last year the Department of Commerce, which provides IT procurement recommendations to all NSW government agencies, named seven companies as the successful tenderers for the “provision of enterprise level Linux system software and associated services for server and desktop environments including systems support, product-specific training and systems integration”.

But half-way through the two-year contract it has proven to be little more than a public relations exercise.

A spokesperson for the Department of Commerce told Computerworld that while some agencies are conducting trials of desktop Linux and other open source software, “at this time no sales have been transacted through the contract”.

Many NSW government agencies, including the Roads and Traffic Authority, the NSW Office of State Revenue, Board of Studies, Department of Lands and the NSW Judicial Commission, are using Linux and other open source software in some capacity, but they have proceeded relying on internal capabilities.

“It appears that most CIOs (chief information officers) using open source are managing it without outside support,” the spokesperson said, adding the contract covers the provision of additional services to support any Linux distribution, should a customer require it.

“However, a review has commenced to evaluate the contract and to determine how it can be improved.”

The department expects the review to be completed early next year.

The spokesperson said last month NSW went to the market with a new contract for desktops, notebooks and small servers which was more open than previous contracts.

“An innovative feature of the tender was the option for agencies to request a Linux operating system when ordering new PCs or notebooks,” the spokesperson said.

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