After their criticized statement about the adoption of OOXML as the preferred document format in the Common Operating Environment policy (see previous post), the Australian federal government decided to highlight their revised open source policy, issued in December 2010, where they take a neutral position vis-a-vis open source, by using verbiage such as:
Australian Government agencies must actively and fairly consider all types of available software (including but not limited to open source software and proprietary software) through their ICT procurement processes. It is recognised there may be areas where open source software is not yet available for consideration. Procurement decisions must be made based on “value for money”. Procurement decisions should take into account whole-of-life costs, capability, security, scalability, transferability, support and manageability requirements […]
agencies are required to include in their procurement plan that open source software will be considered equally alongside proprietary software. Agencies will be required to insert a statement into any Request for Tender that they will consider open source software equally alongside proprietary software. […]
Australian Government agencies will require suppliers to consider all types of available software (including but not limited to open source software and proprietary software) when responding to agencies‟ procurement requests […]
The Australian Government will actively seek to keep up-to-date with international best practice in the open source software arena, through engaging with other countries and organisations. Australian Government agencies should also actively participate in open source software communities and contribute back where appropriate.[…]
I hope this satisfies the open source supporters – although some keep griping about the OOXML on the AGIMO blog where the open source policy is presented. It is similar to many others we have seen, including the British one (see Gartner research note – client access required), with the only substantial difference that there does not seem to be any mechanism to audit whether the provisions of the policy are being respected and any clear countermeasure in case they are not. These may be implicit or possibly subject to a different compliance policy, but it is certainly an area that some people may indicate as a weak point.