With an plan to reduce project costs, the government has determined to give preference to open source software (OSS) over proprietary in e-governance procurements.
“The government of India shall Endeavour to adopt open source software in all e-governance systems implemented by various government organizations as a preferred option in comparison to closed source software (CSS),” states the policy titled ‘Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India’.
It mentions this clause as ‘mandatory’ under the ‘nature of compliance’ category.
A user of OSS can customize this software for own use without having to pay any royalty to its previous developer. Most offer OSS without any charge.
This software is available for use both by end consumers and business organizations.
Some of the known OSS players include Ubuntu, RedHat Linux, Joomla, Apache Software and GIMP. However, CSS is a different proposition where companies charge licence or royalty fee for the proprietary software.
Microsoft, Apple and Adobe are some of the leading names in this space. Many proprietary software players charge an upfront amount at the time of purchase and an annual licence fee for updating the same.
The government’s intention is clear: to cut down costs by using OSS as well keep tabs on information by customizing it as per project requirements.
The policy will be applicable on procurements of all organisations under the central government and those states that choose to adopt this policy for an e-governance framework.
The new policy also states that implementing e-governance applications and systems must include a specific requirement in Request for Proposal (RFP) for all suppliers to consider OSS, along with CSS.
In case a supplier is providing CSS, it shall provide justification for exclusion of OSS in their response.
The policy allows procurement of proprietary software only in the cases where OSS may not be available for meeting essential requirements, but is clear that in such cases, the government organization concerned may consider exceptions with sufficient justification.