Bristol City Council has been cleared to build an IT infrastructure using open source software after a visit from CESG, the cyber security arm of the UK intelligence services.
Complaints about CESG’s obstruction of open source software were branded “folk-law” at a meeting the security body held in Bristol last week, with council leader Barbara Janke, Bristol IT chiefs Paul Arrigoni and Gavin Beckett, and executives from the Cabinet Office.
The meeting came after it emerged Microsoft reseller Computacenter, which Bristol contracted to assess the policy, had advised the council it could not use open source systems without falling foul of security rules. The advice put paid to the council’s wish to use open source software.
A CESG spokeswoman told ComputerWeekly.com: “CESG does not impose rules on the use of software on any public authority, local government or other.”
She admitted it “bound” councils by security measures but insisted: “These do not prescribe which software authorities must use.”
Bristol City Council Leader Barbara Janke said the decision was “very good news” for the city’s IT industry.
“We held a very productive meeting with the Cabinet Office, and they were able to reassure us that there are no security or accreditation issues that should hold us back from pushing ahead with our open source agenda.
“This is very good news and was warmly welcomed by the IT companies present. Our aim is to do all we can to see a higher proportion of money from our IT procurement ending up in the local economy and supporting the city’s innovative software companies.
“We have now been given the green light by the Cabinet Office to push ahead with this open source agenda and they have promised to work closely with us on this issue over the next few months, and more widely in our efforts to support our thriving creative and digital sector as we develop the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.”