Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms has said in an interview with V3.co.uk that smaller firms should be given more opportunities to compete for public sector contracts, but he was vague when discussing the government's open-source commitments.
We asked Timms how Labour's strategy compares with statements made in the Tory manifesto, which promises to open up the £200bn government procurement market to small and open-source companies, partly by breaking up large ICT projects into smaller components.
Timms said that it would be difficult to tell without further details exactly how the Conservative Party would reform the procurement process.
"I have not seen what kind of reforms they are putting forward, but we want to extend the procurement process to smaller providers," he said.
But Timms was less clear when it came to how the government would encourage more open-source technology into the public sector.
"Open-source software is useful, holding opportunities for low-cost and highly reliable solutions, but I don't think it is right for the government to use only open-source technology," he said.
"I don't think we need to bias procurement in open-source. Just because it is open-source, there is not necessarily cost savings. Government procurement should be most focused on getting the best solution. We intend to be pragmatic in our use of open-source."
The Tory manifesto contains a clear commitment to create "a level playing field for open source ICT in government procurement".
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