New #ukgovOSS Action Plan

Earlier this week, Tom Watson, Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary, published the Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan. It’s had a pretty mixed reaction, with mild scepticism (niq’s soapbox: Is gov.uk going open-source?) being the average reaction from what I’ve read. I particularly liked the kind offer by Bristol Wireless to debianise Tom Watson’s laptop.

I think commentators are bang-on that the procurement process needs to change and that this sounds positive. I’ll love it if I’m wrong, but this looks like the “lip service as usual” which I’ve seen in the last 10 years working on FOSS in the UK. I want to see the action that comes from this plan! When government actually starts buying FOSS from typical FOSS service providers and not just the IBMs of this world, then I’ll believe it.

My suspicion is re-ignited by some of the activites around this action plan. For example, does anyone know why the Cabinet Office didn’t select FOSS to run their special public FOSS Aggregation page? (Actually, what’s the best FOSS tag aggregator web service out there? I know we can set them up in WordPress widgets, but what hosted services are there?)

I’m also a bit bemused that their page requires users to accept cookies until they expire, yet its privacy policy explicitly says “You may suppress cookies after your visit or configure your Internet browser to prevent them.” Yes, I can prevent them, but then it does nothing useful!

(Based on a comment I made at the OSS Watch team blog and discussions with a few user groups.)

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