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27 March 2014

(S4O-03048) Open-source Software

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): 4. To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what consideration it has given to making greater use of open-source software. (S4O-03048)

David Stewart (Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body): The corporate body is making use of a number of open-source software products in the information technology network, and we will continue to evaluate products on their merits as new requirements emerge.

Stewart Stevenson: Is the corporate body aware that jurisdictions around the world—including the European Parliament, which uses the Jahia content management system—are using more open-source software? Given the quality benefits of open scrutiny of source code, and the potential for financial savings in adopting open-source programmes, can we consider testing selected software with members with a view to rolling it out more widely if it proves to be satisfactory?

David Stewart: I know that Mr Stevenson has, after 30 years working with IT in banking services, wide experience in this area. He is right to say that open-source approaches are developed in a much more open manner by like-minded people; the programming code can be seen, and the software is generally free to use and—some people argue—more robust. It has also been argued that there are more minds available to solve any problems that arise.

To date, however, no new contracts have been awarded for open-source products. The corporate body’s procurement procedures ensure that the selection criteria are published in advance of any submission and are based on the outcomes and outputs that we need to achieve. As a result, it is open to suppliers to propose how those outcomes and outputs will be achieved, and the solution that they believe would best meet our criteria.

Stewart Stevenson
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