Overspending on IT projects is not a new thing in the public sector anywhere in the world, but recent scandals in the UK seem to have helped push the new government in the direction of Open Source.
Subsequently, the Guardian newspaper revealed the website of the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service had cost £370,000 - when the original quote for the whole project had been £45k! Interestingly it was awarded without the full European tendering process that would have been required if the original budget had been higher.
Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, responded to a tabled question on these issues in parliament by saying:
“The Government believe that departmental websites should be hubs for debate as well as information-where people come together to discuss issues and address challenges-and that this should be achieved efficiently and, whenever possible using open source software. Any future development of websites run by the Cabinet Office will be assessed and reviewed against these criteria.”
In the USA the Obama administration famously moved the White House website to Drupal, and the project has also gained a strong footing in other areas of the public sector. Perhaps the opportunities are now opening up in the UK.