In recent weeks we’ve reported several times on developments at Bristol City Council (news passim), but it seems the software wars between open source and proprietary are still going on down the Counts Louse.
Computer Weekly now reports that systems integrator Computacenter has prevented Bristol City Council from publishing details of a consulting project that has been overshadowed by allegations of anti-open source bias concerning the choice of infrastructure to support the council’s 7,000 PCs and the allocation of more than £8m of public money.
Computer Weekly had requested details about the pilot project under the Freedom of Information Act, but was informed by Stephen McNamara, the Council’s head of legal services, that Computacenter had refused to give the council permission to release the information.
Needless to say, this has caused a great deal of consternation online. Some commentators have wondered why the report cannot be released to the public as public money has paid for it (let’s face it, a report into the deployment of open source software in an English local authority is hardly a matter of national security. Ed.), whilst the reaction of Glyn Moody, the well-respected IT author and journalist, on Twitter pulled no punches:
shame on #computacenter – if they have something to hide, they should clearly be banned from future public contracts
Update: midday 11/08/11: Since this post was published first thing this morning, Glyn Moody has now expanded his tweet above into a full-length post on Computer World UK entitled ‘Why Does Computacenter Fear Openness?’. Glyn’s piece highlights the difference between Computacenter’s attitude as outlined above and the words of Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude at a press conference on open data at the end of last year:
I want the public hold us to account for what we do and, by publishing this data today, taxpayers will be able to see exactly how we spend their money. This will not always be easy but we expect the public to hold our feet to the fire and make sure that not a penny of their money is wasted.