Tory Shadow Chancellor George Osbourne’s speech about open source politics has been widely reported all over the place, most of it suprisingly positive. Although there was a quantity of “yah, boo, politicians don’t know what they’re talking about” responses, many people seem to have been suprised by his comments about open source:
“Taking into account the experience of companies and public sector bodies, it is estimated that the Government could save at least 5% of its annual IT bill if more open source software was used as part of a more effective procurement strategy.
That adds up to over £600m a year.
The open source savings would come not just from reduced licensing costs, but importantly by freeing government bodies from long-term, monopoly supply situations.”
That’s encouraging coming from a politician, but it misses one of the more fundemental points about government IT - it’s not the tools that they use which are the problem, it’s the way they’re used. Government IT is synonymous with scope creep, massive cost and timescale overruns, and all too often writeoffs. That’s not the fault of the software - that’s the fault of the people designing the software. Until the mindset of calling in the usual EDS / CSC / IBM / Accenture / Cap Gemini / BT suspects is challenged, not a lot is going to change, because large scale projects (and therefore large scale project failure) is the only model that’s in the consultancies’ financial interests.