Taxpayer-funded penguin power has received a boost in NSW, with the state's Department of Commerce (DOC) anointing 11 open source software and services vendors by way of a panel agreement.
The creation of the panel means government agencies choosing Linux will be able to buy directly from the pre-approved supplier list rather than resorting to lengthy public tendering processes for each open source project.
According to NSW Department of Commerce, NSW government IT infrastructure alone is worth about $1.2 billion a year - a figure which does not always take into account related services and software.
Invited onto the official open source panel are CSC, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell, Red Hat and Sun which make up the tier-one contingent, while Starcom System Integration Services has also been included.
"It means agencies will not have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of running an open tender every time they require Linux software and services," NSW Commerce Minister John Della Bosca said. More than 15 agents and 20 subcontractors, mainly local, small-to-medium IT suppliers, will also be brought in to help fill orders placed under the new panel agreement, he said.
Stressing that NSW Departments will still be able to choose operating systems according to the best fit for their needs, Della Bosca said the new contract would "make available to all agencies an operating system option that aligns well with the NSW government's policy to encourage the use of open standards and improve compatibility between systems".
Meanwhile, the federal government will release its open source procurement guidelines in mid-April.