ACT calls on government to support open source software

It's fair to say that NZ Rise co-chair Don Christie and ACT leader David Seymour don't always see eye-to-eye.

But Mr Christie today found some common ground, backing Mr Seyour's call for the government to consider open source software.

The Epsom MP says the government needs to take a new approach in its software procurement policies, allowing substantial savings to the taxpayer.

“A substantial number of civil servants could generate the same output using open source software and open document formats, instead of proprietary software like Microsoft Office," he says.

Open source alternatives to commercial software or often available free and for many organisations they can do everything required.

“Departments should see what functions government employees need in their software, then source software that fulfills those functions," Mr Seymour says.

“Countless private businesses already use open-source software to achieve efficiencies and savings. There’s no reason we shouldn’t expect the same from our government.

“The UK Government in 2014 made open document format their standard document format when they found that some £200 million had been spent by the public sector on Microsoft Office licences between 2010 and 2014.

“A back of the envelope calculation shows New Zealand could be spending as much as $52 million every four or five years for software functions that could be provided by free open-source software.

“With the savings made from this change alone, New Zealand could afford a flag referendum every two years.”

As well as (naturally) seeing its own software as more powerful, Microsoft NZ has previously put its position to NBR that "free" open source software can incur staff training and IT systems integration costs.

The government has already been open to open source to a degree, choosing Wellington's SilverStripe in an all-of-government web platform tender. 

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