Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has proposed that expensive software produced by firms like Microsoft should be dropped in a bid to make procurement more effective and efficient.
Maude, believes government departments should shift to free “open source” software, such as OpenOffice, or Google Docs, to reduce costs and improve communication. Around £200m has been spent by the public sector on Microsoft’s Office suite since 2010.
Speaking at a cross-government event showcasing new online services on Wednesday, Maude is expected applaud the ‘CloudStore’, an online marketplace, which has seen around £5m a month go directly to SMEs.
The proportion of central government procurement from SMEs has risen from 6% in 2010 to more than 10%.
Maude will say: “We know the best technology and digital ideas often come from small businesses but too often in the past they were excluded from government work. In the civil service there was a sense that if you hired a big multi-national, who everyone knew the name of, you’d never be fired.
“I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software.”