In the response to a pretty innocuous parliamentary question from Tom Watson, new Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude makes a statement which could, on the face of it, be of monumental significance for UK e-government.
The Government believe that departmental websites should be hubs for debate as well as information-where people come together to discuss issues and address challenges – and that this should be achieved efficiently and, whenever possible using open source software. Any future development of websites run by the Cabinet Office will be assessed and reviewed against these criteria.
We’ve heard the ‘hubs for debate’ line before, in the Conservative tech manifesto, but the other part is quite startling. Open source software ‘wherever possible’. An unqualified statement of policy. No caveats at all; not even financial. That takes us far, far beyond the ‘level playing field’.