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Whitehall still struggling with openness

Cabinet Office logoCourtesy of a news report today on governmental lists of open source alternatives to proprietary software on EU public sector open source news website Joinup, the chief scribe duly downloaded and read the Open Source Software Options for Government publication (pdf), which forms the basis for a Joinup case study.

A quick glance through the document reveals that at least someone in Whitehall is clued up about what types of software could be used by central and local government. Indeed, it’s a most useful document (typos aside. Ed.) and the various packages are subdivided into seventeen categories, as follows:

  1. Infrastructure and Server;
  2. Data and Databases;
  3. Middleware;
  4. Application Servers;
  5. Application Development and Testing;
  6. Cloud;
  7. Business Applications;
  8. Network;
  9. Web and Web Applications;
  10. Geographic and Mapping;
  11. Security Tools;
  12. Desktop Office;
  13. Specialist Applications;
  14. Education and Library;
  15. Health;
  16. Service Management;
  17. Agile Development and Project Management.

What struck the chief scribe was the footer on every page, i.e. © Crown Copyright

This is an indication that Whitehall, even though it’s prepared to consider the use of software produced under an open licence, is still struggling with the concept of openness and open licensing itself. After all, the document could have been released under HMG’s own Open Government Licence or under Creative Commons or one of many of the other open licences for documentation, such as the GNU Free Documentation License.

If you find Sir Humphrey’s attitude ambivalent, why not email him at and tell him so? 🙂