Govt announces open source software policy

The government has announced a policy for adopting open source software (OSS), making it mandatory that such software is considered along with proprietary products, as it looks to bring in transparency and lower total cost of ownership of projects.

The policy shall be applicable to Central government organisations and and those State governments that choose to adopt this policy, an official statement said.

"Under the overarching vision of Digital India, Government of India aims to make government services digitally accessible to citizens in their localities and to ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs," it said.

It added that organisations worldwide have adopted alternative solutions to optimise costs by exploring avenues of OSS and the Policy will encourage the formal adoption and use of OSS in government organisations in the country.

Under the Policy, all government organisations, while implementing e-Governance applications and systems will have to include a specific requirement in Request for Proposal (RFP) for all suppliers to consider OSS along with closed source software (CSS) while responding.

Suppliers will have to provide justification for exclusion of OSS in their response, in case they do not do so.

"Government organisations shall ensure compliance with this requirement and decide by comparing both OSS and CSS options with respect to capability, strategic control, scalability, security, life-time costs and support requirements," it said.

In certain specialised domains where OSS solutions are not be available, the concerned government organisation can consider exceptions "with sufficient justification", it said.

Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said CSC codes, which are proprietary, used to be monopolistic as there is not only a lock-in but vendors also charge heavily for maintenance and subsequent updates.

Usage of open source software (OSS) is cost effective, allows modification of source codes (key to any mobile/ computer programme or application) according to local needs and is free from royalty, he had said.

Many countries around the world are supporting OSS like the US and the UK.

"GoI has also been promoting the use of open source technologies in the eGovernance domain within the country in order to leverage economic and strategic benefits," the statement said.

Also, the National Policy on Information Technology, 2012 mentions 'Adoption of open standards and promote open source and open technologies' as one of its objectives.

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