Banning Software Patents & 'Opening' IT Procurement Processes

Paul Matthews, Chief Executive of the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP), congratulated Commerce Minister Foss for listening to the information technology (IT) industry and supporting the nearly unanimous passage of New Zealand's recent law banning software patents.

This represents one more step forward in efforts by the public sector to change the law and procurement processes for IT software solutions. It places open source software solutions on an equal footing with traditional  'closed' proprietary solutions. This change will also benefit many small companies in the private sector that can't afford costly, proprietary solutions.

With public and private organizations today spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on software purchases, there are significant potential savings associated with using a procurement process that allows for the evaluation and selection of open source solutions alongside 'closed' proprietary software products. 

Unfortunately, there is  an industry ecosystem built over the past 50 years on principles at odds with the procurement of open source solutions and associated business models. It will take continuous vigilance and proactive efforts by the global open source community to continue changing existing IT procurement policies in the U.S. and many other countries.

Some useful guides related to the procurement of open source solutions that are currently available include (1) the 'Civic Commons Legal and Procurement Issues Guide',  the 'Guide for the Procurement of Standards-based ICT' published by the European Commission, (3) the U.K. government's Open Source Procurement Toolkit, and (4) the Open Business Readiness Rating (Open BRR) model.

Open source software has gone from strength to strength in both the public and private sector – especially in healthcare.  An increasing number of hospitals and clinics around the world are steadily increasing their investment in the acquisition and implementation of open source health IT systems.

Read about the recent award of contract to CGI Group to oversee implementation of the open source VistA electronic health record (EHR) system in over 300 New York State hospitals and clinics. See NY State Office of Mental Health to Implement DSS vxVistA System

Also, see the listing of 'open source' Health IT Software & Resources posted on Open Health News (OHN).