Open Source Services by default

This suggestion is that publicly funded software written for the public sector should be made open source by default.

This would mean that contracts to deliver software for the public sector in Scotland would require that any new software is made open source both during and after development.

The open source software would have to be published in an open repository (e.g. https://github.com/scottishgovernment/) along with the build scripts to build the software and test scripts to test it.  These scripts and the underlying software would need to use readily available development languages and tools so that others could freely participate in furthering the work.

Why the contribution is important

  • It makes the software that was paid for by public money available back to the public for potential re-use.
  • It makes the work carried out open to public scrutiny - leveraging the technical skills that are in short supply in the public sector itself.
  • It opens opportunities for individuals and organisations to contribute to the software in order to fix bugs and make the software work better.
  • It opens opportunities for individuals and organisations to innovate and accelerate the development of public services extending initiatives like CivTech.
  • It would allow school pupils and students to learn about coding and public services by directly contributing to them and it would allow teachers and academics to use these to make the software development more clearly applicable to day to day life in Scotland.
  • It would facilitate economic research and modelling by making the models of taxation for the newly developed powers freely available for use.  This in turn would allow government to be better informed about the implications of changes in taxation and economic policy.
  • It would prevent 'lock-in' by single commercial providers who may otherwise be the only companies suitably placed to continue to deliver a crucial service contract to government.
  • It would provide a much more level playing field for the involvement of home-grown SMEs in the provision of this software - thereby aiding economic growth.
     

by sroebuck on November 07, 2016 at 08:08AM

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Comments

  • Posted by Rab November 15, 2016 at 22:30

    This all makes sense. Many 10s of £ million was spent on e-care in Scotland. That code should have been put on GitHub and made open. I have no confidence it wouldn't happen again.
    Scottish Govt should make a much stronger commitment to open source
  • Posted by wellis November 17, 2016 at 12:55

    I love this idea.
    It makes perfect sense to me.
    This way smaller organisations with niche causes that are important to them and the epople they provide them for can use the same 'packages' or 'Open Source Products' to promote and educate.
  • Posted by rt29781 December 05, 2016 at 18:08

    Open source has to be a requirement for public sector software. Countless millions are watsed on proprietary software that costs money to share.
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