New study foresees open source uptick in government

According to a new study compiled by Accenture, both public and private sector organizations are investing more heavily in open source software than they were two years ago. Additionally, survey respondents indicated a shift in perceived reliability and speed of OSS solutions, pushing demand higher in the future.

In a comparison of five industries: financial services, products, communications & hi-tech, resources and the public sector, Accenture research indicates that users in financial services are more evolved in their adoption of open source, having more developed OSS strategies and policies.Despite having fewer documented or formalized open source strategies, nearly three-fourths of public sector organizations surveyed said the technology is changing the way they operate IT.

Public sector respondents indicated that better quality software and faster deployments were key benefits of using open source. Earlier this year California’s Office of the State Chief Information Officer (OCIO) made headlines when the state agency released a policy decision, establishing a governance framework for the use of open source software within state agencies and departments.

In an interview with CivSource Adrian Farley, Chief Deputy Director for Policy and Program Management at OCIO, said “the new policy reaffirms to state agencies that OSS is an acceptable tool, and that they should consider open source when looking at their business needs.”

While many US-based and public sector organizations said they planned to invest more in open source over the next two years, public sector users cited an average of only 10 percent savings over the lifetime of an open source solution – financial services said they received around 44 percent savings on average. However, cost savings was seen, overall, as less of a driver for OSS adoption than increased reliability, speed and quality.

“What we are seeing is the coming of age of open source,” Paul Daugherty, chief technology architect at Accenture, said in a statement. However, Mr. Daugherty also noted that less than one-third of OSS users have contributed back to the community “As open source software is used in more critical business functions the next step will be for organizations to decide whether to actively contribute back to the community,” said Daugherty.

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