UK Government Open Source Strategy

The UK Cabinet Office has defined a policy on the use of open source software. 1Tech is assisting UK government in adopting this policy.


The policy states that the consideration of use of open source software should follow that:


  • UK Government will consider OSS solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a value for money basis.
  • UK Government will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments.
  • UK Government will seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services.
  • UK Government will consider obtaining full rights to bespoke software code or customisations of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) software it procures wherever this achieves best value for money.
  • Publicly funded R&D projects which aim to produce software outputs shall specify a proposed software exploitation route at the start of the project. At the completion of the project, the software shall be exploited either commercially or within an academic community or as OSS.


1Tech have been involved in helping UK government to define the justification of Open Source Spftware. The justification for adopting this policy is as follows:


  • There is a need to always procure a solution that gives value for money. This may be an OSS solution, or a proprietary one, or a mixture of both. Decisions should be made on a case by case basis.
  • There is a need to ensure that interoperability of systems is provided and maintained. The e-GIF is mandated across the public sector and compliance with that is essential to the provision of e-services and joined-up Government.
  • Every effort should be made to reduce the cost and risk to government systems. Adopting this policy helps achieve that by:
    • acquiring best value for money solutions
    • removing the reliance on individual IT suppliers
    • providing more flexibility in the development, enhancement and integration of systems
    • vesting the ownership of bespoke and tailored software code with Government where this offers value for money.
  • Security of government systems is vital. Properly configured OSS can be at least as secure as proprietary systems and OSS is currently subject to fewer Internet attacks. A balance needs to be struck between the availability of security administration skills and the advantages of many diverse systems.
  • There is a need to maximise returns on and benefits from public investment in publicly funded R&D software. The policy helps achieve this through the focus on and requirement for the exploitation of software outputs.