Francis Maude has continued his mission to encourage more smaller suppliers into Whitehall by announcing government plans to ditch Microsoft office for open source alternatives.
IT procurement has been top of the agenda for the minister for the Cabinet Office recently and just last Friday he put in place a range of measures to help small suppliers cash in on government contracts - a move hailed by SMB VARs.
Today, speaking at a government event, Maude set out his vision to further incorporate open source tech into government departments in order to break supplier oligopoly.
"The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies," he said. "A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace. I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software."
Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on Microsoft's Office suite since 2010, according to a Press Association report, which added that Maude is keen to pursue open-source alternatives such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.
"In the first instance, this will help departments to do something as simple as share documents with each other more easily," he added. "But it will also make it easier for the public to use and share government information.
"Technical standards for document formats may not sound like the first shot in a revolution. But be in no doubt: the adoption of compulsory standards in government threatens to break open Whitehall's lock-in to proprietary formats. In turn we will open the door for a host of other software providers."
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