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Is the OMB Afraid of Google?

by Andrea Di Maio  |  January 11, 2011  |  2 Comments

On January 7 the Office of Management and Budget issues a memo reminding US federal agencies of the importance of technology neutrality in procurement.

The one-page memo reminds that

[…] policies are built around the use of merit-based requirements development and evaluation processes that promote procurement choices based on performance and value, and free of preconceived preferences based on how the technology is developed, licensed or distributed. In the context of developing requirements and planning acquisitions for software, for example, this means, as a general matter, that agencies should analyze alternatives that include proprietary, open source, and mixed source technologies. This allows the Government to pursue the best strategy to meet its particular needs.

Although there is probably no direct connection, it is difficult not to relate this memo to the recent decision by a federal judge to stop the procurement by the US Interior Department of a Microsoft email solution. It is certainly wise to remind agencies that procurement needs to be open and technology-neutral. Without any reference to the DOI case, there will be cases where technology-neutrality lead to higher costs and changes in risk profiles: in fact vendor lock-in is a risk, but so is a change of architecture or a new licensing model.

Public procurement must be driven by value for money, and while all available options need to be examined, choice must be based on a clear and transparent assessment of benefits, costs and risks.

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Category: cloud  open-source-in-government  

Tags: omb  open-source  procurement  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Is the OMB Afraid of Google?

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Uptime Devices, Bromley Stone and others. Bromley Stone said: Is the OMB Afraid of Google?: On January 7 the Office of Management and Budget issues a memo reminding US federa… […]

  2. On Twitter Justin Herman of Phase One Consulting Group observed that this post is analysis free and link-baiting (see and
    Just for the records, blog posts from Gartner analysts are not meant to be pieces of Gartner research, which is available to our clients. However, in this specific case, I did not suggest any causal link between the federal judge decision and the memo, nor do I believe there is any. I just found the coincidence too interesting not to comment and take the opportunity to say that value for money (taking into account total cost of ownership of course) is what matters.
    If Justin had spent some time in Europe, he would be familiar with these sorts of memos from the early open source days.

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