Bristol City Council all clear for open source
Bristol City Council has announced that there are "no security or accreditation issues that should hold us back from pushing ahead with our open source agenda". The announcement was said by the council to be the result of working with the Cabinet Office after concerns were raised, by the council itself, about security accreditation for open source software. The council leader Barbara Janke said: "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".
In what is seen by many as an attempt to reboot the stalled open source process in Bristol, the Cabinet Office's Bill McCluggage, Director of ICT Strategy and Policy, and ICT adviser Liam Maxwell, visited the council last week. This is believed to be the first time that the Cabinet Office has intervened in a local authority to speed up the adoption of open source. They plan to revisit the council in a few months to check on progress at the council that was the flagship for open source adoption.
It had been suggested that CESG, an arm of GCHQ responsible for public authority cyber-security, would not accredit open source software and would instead require that authorities use Microsoft software as this was the only current software which had passed these tests. According to ComputerWeekly, this information came from Microsoft reseller Computacenter who had been contracted to assess the council's open source policy. The advice was reportedly branded "folk-law" at a council meeting where it was noted that CESG offer guidelines rather than prescriptive rules on what software can be deployed.
Bristol City Council's minutes of the meeting show that entire solutions will need to be accredited in the future, but there is no requirement for separate products to be accredited within that solution. The "boundary" of the system and the components at the boundary were, according to CESG, what was key to accreditation; what was within the boundary was not an issue.