The Australian UNIX and Open Systems User Group (AUUG) is opposing legislation that gives preference to open source software.
The group believes that open source should be considered on its merits. It is pushing for the establishment of a level playing field for open source software within public sector IT procurement.
AUUG claims that a widespread disregard of the open source issue has led to the proliferation of technology, such as proprietary protocols and file formats, which locks agencies into single vendor solutions.
Treasurer of AUUG, Gordon Hubbard, said the group wasn't opposing open source, but it recognised there was a problem with getting an even playing field.
“The government needs to address the issue by making sure open source is evaluated and considered, not given preference,” he said. “AUUG has not directly addressed the current bill, but we are just putting our position on the matter forward.”
Hubbard told ARN that in the past the government had been extremely helpful in reacting to AUUG suggestions.
“[The government] has been helpful, but the level of knowledge of open source in many parts of the government is low,” he said. “It needs to be a proactive market force.”
AUUG welcomed the recent initiatives of leading agencies such as National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) and the Office of Information Technology (NSW OIT).
NOIE chief executive, John Rimmer, said that in effect agencies were already obliged to implement open source software where it provided a fit-for-purpose, value-for-money solution to their needs.
AUUG said that the government needed to do more than passively rely on market forces. Leading government agencies needed to be be proactive in seeking a fairer system.
For more on this issue, see next week's edition of ARN.