On 27 January 2011, Special Minister of State Gary Gray released the revised Australian Government Open Source Software Policy, which requires agencies to consider both open source and proprietary software for all ICT procurements.
Mr Gray said: "The revised policy further strengthens agency software procurement processes by requiring agencies to consider both open source and proprietary software when undertaking all software procurement."
The government’s previous position on open source software, established in 2005, was one of ‘informed neutrality’. This ensured an unbiased position that did not favour the selection of either open source or proprietary software. Both the previous and the new policy positions ensure ‘value for money’ and 'fit for purpose' decisions in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.
There have been significant changes in technology and the software marketplace since the initial 2005 policy on open source software for the Australian Government. Many governments around the world have revised their policies to increase adoption of open source software.
Open source software is already widely used by Australian government agencies. A 2007 survey found that 68 % of agencies use open source software. There are currently over 200 open source software products in use across Australian Government agencies.
“The revised Australian Government policy requires agencies to consider open source software during their procurement processes and requires respondents to procurement requests to also consider the use of open source software,” Mr. Gray explained.
The Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies is available on the Department of Finance and Deregulation website. The Government is currently reviewing this Guide, which is due for public release by 31 March 2011. The Australian Government Policy on Open Source Software is also available on the Department of Finance and Deregulation website.
• Original press release - Australian Special Minister of State
• Australian Government Policy on Open Source Software - Department of Finance and Deregulation
• Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies - Department of Finance and Deregulation