Open source procurement

Lots of coverage this week on DWP’s implementation of an OGC-sponsored open source solution for online procurement. I’m intrigued by this – some of the stories seem to indicate that bits are open source and bits not (it may be, and I’m not sure, that it’s a proprietary package but running in Linux), but that’s not what intrigues me. For a long time it’s puzzled me how to get departments to work together to save money. After all, how many contracts do we need in government to buy staples, paper clips and pencil sharpeners? This might be the first chance to really get the buying clout that government deserves. Recent deals for, say, Oracle and Microsoft software, have shown toe-in-the-water thinking about blanket licences and have certainly saved some money. But low numbers in the scheme of things.

Coupled with the announcement from the NHS about shared service centres, a project which has taken a long time to come togther, it looks like there is a sea change in parts of UK government about the merits of joining up. If we could get another big department to use the procurement software, and someone from outside the NHS to join in on a service centre …

Ah, dreaming? Or maybe not. Maybe now is the time. Budgets are being cut, public sector borrowing is up, IT systems are relics from a bygone age, Blair wants reform … Maybe.

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