Aim is to foster adoption in public administration
Governments that want to increase the use of open source software by public administrations should encourage the growth of an open source service sector, recommends Maha Shaikh, researcher at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (UK). Public administrations should share their open source expert consultants, she says.
A pool of government open source experts would help public administrations reuse software or adapt it to other use-case. Most importantly, writes the Warwick Business School Assistant Professor of Information Systems, a team of experts would most-likely be able to innovate products and software.
“To build a sustainable ecosystem and long-term growth for open source products in the public sector it is essential that a healthy ecosystem of small and medium sized firms are stimulated to service public sector open source products”, Shaikh recommends (Government Information Quarterly).
A lack of good support and shortage of skilled candidates can create new forms of IT lock-in, Shaikh warns.
Comparing the use of open source in the city councils of Camden and Bristol (both in the UK), Shaik concludes that open source adoption “like other technologies needs to be approached carefully and with expertise in order to reap the benefits of reduced lock-in, lower costs of implementation and license, and greater transparency.”
Her research also emphasises the importance of open standards, as they limit the amount of changes made to software solutions. Open source’s propensity to change creates possibilities as well as new barriers, Shaikh finds. The ever-changing open source code, its community, coordination mechanisms, license and documentation are some of the reasons for public administrations’ mixed response to open source.