The State Services Commission have released a Request for Proposal that specifies that the solution they are looking for will be an Open Source solution. As a consequence the SSC received various questions from vendors concerned they were being excluded. Statements in RFP's often specify specific products, usually because of business reasons such as leverage of existing software assets. The SSC has not replied to those questions on it's web site.
I note from the RFP that you want an Open Source CMS, why is this?
The Commission has stated that an open source CMS is a requirement with a view to saving the government money and avoiding unnecessary reliance on a single supplier of a proprietary product. Its decision to do so is consistent with the Mandatory Rules for Procurement by Departments and the Auditor-General’s Procurement Guidance for Public Entities. The former states that “[d]epartments must make procurement decisions on the basis of value for money of goods and services to be supplied, and not on the basis of their place of origin or the degree of foreign ownership or affiliation of the supplier”. Similarly, the Auditor-General’s guidance states that “[p]ublic entities should use resources effectively, economically, and without waste, with due regard for the total costs and benefits of an arrangement, and its contribution to the outcomes the entity is trying to achieve.” In the Commission’s view, there is nothing in either the Mandatory Rules or the Auditor- General’s guidance that precludes specifying an open source CMS as a requirement. To the contrary, where appropriate, doing so may secure the best value for money. There are many open source solutions that are likely to meet the Commission’s requirements and enable it to share components with other agencies who wish to leverage the Commission’s investment without licensing impediments. To avoid doubt, the Commission has been mindful of paragraphs 16 and 19–21 of the Mandatory Rules. It considers that its
requirement for an open source CMS is not contrary to either the letter or spirit of those paragraphs. None of those paragraphs prevents the Commission from opting for an open source as opposed to proprietary licensing model.
“NZ Government Agencies are encouraged to assess open source software alternatives (where these exist) alongside commercial software, and should choose based on cost, functionality, interoperability, and security” http://www.e.govt.nz/policy/open-source This policy clearly states that open source software should be considered alongside
commercial software. Can you please explain why the SSC has departed from this policy by excluding commercial software from the RFP?
The statement “NZ Government Agencies are encouraged to assess open source software alternatives (where these exist) alongside commercial software” is a recommendation Vs a mandatory requirement. In this instance the Commission has stated that an open source CMS is a requirement with a view to saving the government money and avoiding unnecessary reliance on a single supplier of a proprietary product. Its decision to do so is consistent with the Mandatory Rules for Procurement by Departments and the Auditor-General’s Procurement Guidance for Public Entities.
The SSC writes in ‘SSC Website Question and Answer Why did SSC specify Open Source’ that “The Commission has stated that an open source CMS is a requirement with a view to saving the government money”. Can the SSC provide the economic assessment and supporting information that shows the open source CMS will save the government money to the extent that it justifies excluding commercial CMS solutions? Finally, by requiring a respondent to commit to releasing their source code the SSC has effectively ruled out alternate delivery models, such as cloud computing (in-country or otherwise), can the SSC explain why it has taken this step?
By specifying that the solution must be open source, SSC is free to redistribute the code to other government agencies, thereby providing potential savings to Government in the form of eliminating the need for those agencies to purchase licensed software.
How does SSC expect to understand any savings against Commercial licensed software solutions if they aren’t prepared to evaluate them?
What we have requested for evaluation is a solution that is fit for our current business purpose, is interoperable and standards-based, is secure and is cost effective. Specifying open source clarifies the first of those criteria for prospective tenderers, as is consistent with the Government Procurement Guidelines: “At the same time, the method should be appropriate to the market for the particular goods or services, and the circumstances of the procurement.”
The e.govt policies for the treatment of Intellectual Properties Rights, states that ICT IP is generally best managed by the commercial sector, how does this relate to the SSC redistributing code?
The policy statement is a general one. SSC has in the past redistributed code under a range of open source licenses, and reserves the right to continue to do so into the future.
Are you also suggesting that this solution is potentially used for all-of-government web content management?
No. We are not procuring an all-of-government solution. We are attempting to fulfil our specific business requirements, including reserving the rights to be able to make the code available to any other government agencies that have the same requirements.