Be afraid, be very afraid

We were pleased, wearied but not surprised by this article by Sade Laja in today’s Guardian professional. The article, titled Open source still feared within Whitehall, says IT architect, concerns a talk given by Home Office lead architect Tariq Rashid to the Open Gov Summit.

It’s pleasing to see the issues discussed openly, but wearying to see that open source still isn’t considered as an option within government. The sluggishness of Whitehall when it comes to taking an open-minded attitude to pretty much anything doesn’t come as a surprise, but it can’t help but be a disappointment that open source is still considered to be unreliable, insecure and a bit, well, new. Heaven forfend Whitehall should tussle with something that offers flexibility and – whisper it – innovation. Clearly far better to be locked into contracts limiting and dictating what departments can achieve but with a familiar name on them.

It’s reassuring that clear-thinkers are out there though. This comment was particularly cheering:

“Our objective is not to have a target for the use of open source in government, our objective is not to have a year on year increase, our objective is to best exploit the opportunities that are out there,” he said.

And from someone within Whitehall! This was also good to read:

Rashid went on to say that although the government wasn’t “super mature” about working with open source, there were pockets of excellence in government.

As part of this process of development, he said, over the last year Whitehall has started to point the finger less at the market and more at itself.

It’s a short little article. Read it and smile a wry smile.

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