Labor will promote open source: Lundy

Federal government agencies and departments locked into restrictive outsourcing and procurement contracts will find relief under a Labor policy of encouraging the innovative use of open source software, according to shadow IT minister Senator Kate Lundy.

Speaking today at this year’s Australian Unix Users Group conference in Melbourne, Lundy said Labor will create an environment where the innovative use of open source software is encouraged and explored.

“Federal agencies and departments have discovered for themselves that the Howard government's mistaken approach of large-scale outsourcing as a panacea for efficiencies has not worked,” Lundy said. “In contrast, Labor believes there are real efficiencies to be gained through a strategic or selective approach to ICT sourcing.

"This type of sourcing has become more prevalent for agencies and departments not locked into long-term contracts under the Howard approach.”

Lundy said the Howard government was forced to abandon its flawed outsourcing initiative which proved that vertically orientated, prescriptive IT contracts have stifled innovation and added to the cost of IT to the commonweath for the last eight years.

“Open source software represents one of the greatest opportunities to reinvigorate an innovative climate within the public sector, and many agencies and departments have already lead the way in the absence of any policy direction from the Howard government,” she said.

“How governments manage their purchasing policies is directly relevant to the open source software solutions and their chance of winning government contracts.”

Without revealing all of Labor’s open source policies at this stage of the election campaign, Lundy did say that Labor will remove the many barriers that prevent smaller companies, such as open source vendors, from tendering and competing for federal government ICT contracts.

“We need to ensure policy makers around the country are as well briefed as can possibly be achieved with respect to open source software and its potential, and the Labor Party has been vocal and active in promoting open source software for its use within government," she said.

“I believe open source software has successfully challenged many of the assumptions government agencies have made about software vendors in the past.”

Lundy then pointed the finger at Senator Helen Coonan’s recent open source in government direction statement.

“I note with interest that the third recent minister for IT, Senator Coonan, only this week finally issued a statement on open source in government.

This statement echoes many calls I’ve made about the need for agencies to proactively consider open source,” she said. “It promises to promote successful solutions that are already in place at commonwealth agencies."

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