Open source 'too risky' for Aussie government mandate

Agencies can choose whatever software they wish

Open source software is too risky for the Australian government, which has ruled out mandating government use of open source software because the failure of a high-profile project following such a move is simply too risky.

The announcement came from MP Christopher Pearce at the Australian Unix and Open Systems User Group (AUUG) conference in Melbourne this momth. Pearce said the government's policy on open source was very simple. "Agencies are allowed to use whatever software is available, providing it meets agencies' needs and is cost effective as a business solution, considering the total cost of ownership over the life of its use, not just the up-front cost," he said.

Pearce added that government would not discriminate between open source and proprietary software, taking a non-religious viewpoint he described as "informed neutrality". "Government is big enough for its demand to outstrip supply, if introduced quickly, and industry resources would be stretched if there were a significant number of simultaneous large implementations. This would unacceptably increase the risk of a large high-profile failure, which would be both a setback for the government and for industry," he said.

This move reverses the Aussie government's 2002 statement about open standards and open source as "critical for the efficient application of technology".

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