Public administrations in the UK can get professional support for using LibreOffice, the open source office alternative, thanks to a licence deal by the UK’s central procuring agency Crown Commercial Service with Collabora, a UK-based ICT service provider.
The company has a business unit specialising in LibreOffice. The agreement means public administration get migration tools, are assisted with deployment, and will get 5 instead of 3 years of support for each major release of LibreOffice.
“Collabora GovOffice is based on LibreOffice, and is compatible with Google Docs and Microsoft Office (including Office 365)”, Crown Commercial Service announced on 20 October. “It includes comprehensive support for the latest version of Open Document Format, which is recommended by the Cabinet Office for use by government organisations.”
The licence agreement includes the use of cloud-based service for government users, providing access to documents via webbrowsers and smartphones. “IT managers will be able to deploy the cloud software locally, providing remote access to documents managed in controlled environments”, CCS writes.
UK public administrations can use the UK-based company’s LibreOffice experts to make sure selected versions of LibreOffice will run smoothly in their organisations, and to tweak the software to fit specific needs. CCS: “The open source software can complement or replace existing office applications and be used to extend the usefulness of other software packages.”
The agreement makes the GovOffice LibreOffice version available to all ‘non-profit making government organisations, including those working on behalf of government, either directly or via outsourcing’, CCS writes.
“The UK government’s has an excellent policy promoting interoperability and ODF”, comments Michael Meeks, a well-known LibreOffice developer working for Collabora. “The policy provides citizens with access to government services, and introduces real competition into the market for ICT office solutions.” Governments that care about open standards should take a hard look at their procurement, he says. “They should recognise that competition would benefit their office productivity.”