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U.K. Government Aiming to Cut Costs with Open Source Solutions

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The U.K. government is planning to switch from Microsoft’s Office to open source solutions to cut costs. The focus is on having an efficient document management system with a great range of software.

The U.K. government is planning to switch from Microsoft’s Office to open source solutions to cut costs. The focus is on having an efficient document management system with a great range of software.

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  • 1. U.K. Government Aiming to Cut Costs with Open Source Solutions The U.K. government is planning to cut costs, by switching from Microsoft’s expensive software to open source solutions, a report published in the Guardian says. The cabinet office minister Francis Maude believes that installing software solutions that produce documents in the open document format is more cost-effective than Microsoft’s Office suite. The UK government sector has spent more than 200 million pounds (since 2010) on Microsoft Office licenses. The government wants to avoid tying government staff and taxpayers to any one piece of technology or software. They would like to eliminate the tiny oligopoly prevailing in the market, as software that is being used in government computers is still supplied by a few large companies. Initiatives from the U.K. Government to Achieve the Goal The U.K government would like to have an efficient document management system with a great range of software. Such a system should have the capability to provide its users with the following benefits. • Allow civil servants to access any information they need • Employees can get their work done without buying any particular brand of software • Help departments to share documents more easily • Facilitate the public to use and share government information www.managedoutsource.com 1-800-670-2809
  • 2. A large amount of the outlay needed when using Microsoft could be cut by adopting software that can produce open-source files in ODF (open document format), such as Google Docs and OpenOffice. Open Standards Adopted Open standards are vital for making technology cheaper, more connected and better suited to public services. To achieve those benefits and reduce cost, the U.K. cabinet office has selected two open standards. • HTTP/1.1 URL: Helps in reusing public sector information, by assigning consistent identifiers for entities such as schools, hospitals or government companies included in government datasets. • Unicode UTF-8: Is useful to prevent corruption of text between systems. These open standards work on the basis of certain principles that bring out innovative IT services, increase savings, and push more competition for government contracts. All government bodies must obey these principles to attain benefits such as: • Apply for an exemption • Software interoperability • Data and document formats in government IT Now the public can get involved in the process of prioritizing and selecting open standards for Government IT. One among the document formats such as pdf, txt, doc, odt, xlsx, odp and html, should be mandated to share information with the public. Once a format got mandated, sharing of information should be done in the www.managedoutsource.com 1-800-670-2809
  • 3. prescribed format, otherwise files in different format should be converted using reliable document conversion software. Open standards implementation in government IT will include the following phases. • Suggestions phase: Collecting suggestions from users of government services regarding the challenges they face. • Challenge phase: Collecting ideas from public on the standards or approaches that would help government address the challenges • Proposal phase: Creating proposals for each challenge • Assessment Phase: Among the proposals created for each challenge, a suitable one is selected and submitted to the Open Standards Board • Implementation phase: Implementing the adopted standards Open source suites like OpenOffice and LibreOffice are still in use with various central government departments, along with open source operating systems being used in public sector bodies such as the Met Office and Government Digital Service. Some of the government bodies in Europe have successfully moved to open source software, especially the city of Munich. They recently made transition of about 15,000 staff from Microsoft OS and office suite to open source alternatives. Anyhow, the U.K. government is not completely barring Microsoft’s software suites, but is looking for options that are more economical. Undoubtedly, when it comes to document management and document management services, affordability is a major consideration. www.managedoutsource.com 1-800-670-2809

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