Evaluating Open Source in Government: Methodological Considerations in Strategizing the Use of Open Source in the Public Sector

Evaluating Open Source in Government: Methodological Considerations in Strategizing the Use of Open Source in the Public Sector

Christian Wernberg-Tougaard (Unisys A/S, Denmark), Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz (Unisys, Belgium), Kristoffer Herning (Unisys A/S, Denmark) and John Gøtze (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-117-9.ch006
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Abstract

The use of free and open source software (F/OSS) in the public sector has been accelerating over the last ten years. The benefits seem to be obvious: No licensing costs, unlimited flexibility, vendor independence, a support community, and so forth. But as with everything else in life, a successful implementation of F/OSS in government is not as simple as it might look initially. The implementation of F/OSS should build on a solid evaluation of core business criteria in all their complexity. In this chapter we analyze the evaluation considerations that government bodies should undertake before deciding between F/OSS and traditional software (SW), including the way knowledge networks and communities of practice work, total cost of ownership, and core functional requirements. The chapter presents a methodology conceptualizing this process in a comprehensive framework, focusing on the interaction between the strategic and business process level and the SW/infrastructure level. The chapter aims at presenting a framework enabling IT strategist and management from the “business side” of public sector institutions to evaluate F/OSS vs. traditional SW in tight cooperation with the IT side of the organization.

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