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By | Kelly Fiveash 11th March 2010 13:15

Tories pat small biz heads in open source IT procurement pledge

Claims Conservative government would cap tech +£100m contracts

Shadow chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne claimed today that the Conservative party, if elected to form the next government, would meet its "ambition" of ensuring that the next generation of "Googles, Microsofts and Facebooks" were British companies.

The Tories pledged in their technology manifesto that they would be the "first country in Europe to extend superfast 100 mbps broadband across most of the population".

If David Cameron's party is invited by HRH the Queen to form a government following a general election that many expect to happen on 6 May, the Tories claim they will publish a litany of expenses online.

The Conservatives would cough up central government and quango spending on anything over £25,000, all UK.gov tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000. Every item of local government spending over £500 will also be published, according to the manifesto.

Echoing the current Labour government's "commitment" to open source and open standards, the Tories sang from the same hymn book by declaring they would "create a level playing field for open source IT in government procurement".

The party said it would open up UK.gov IT contracts to small and medium-sized businesses by dividing large tech projects into smaller components.

"To ensure that high tech small businesses are not locked out of the IT procurement process, a Conservative government will also introduce a presumption against government IT contracts worth over £100m," claimed the Tories.

"These policies will also help to catalyse the growth of the next generation of high tech British IT companies."

The manifesto added that a Tory government would immediately halt planned IT procurement projects, to evaulate proposals and "ensure that small businesses and open source IT providers are not locked out of the bidding process".

The Tories also plan to create a team of IT coders that it has dubbed "government skunkworks" to develop IT apps in-house and advise on large-scale IT procurement projects.

Cameron's party is also going big on its own grandiose Web2.0rhea vision of the interwebs, with crowd-sourcing featuring prominently in the Tory tech manifesto.

"The Conservative Party believes that government websites should not be treated like secure government offices or laboratories... We see government websites as being more like a mixture of private buildings and public spaces," it said.

Elsewhere in the manifesto, the Tories' policy chimed with that of the Labour government's current approach to UK.gov datasets.

However, whether a Tory government would be able to convince the likes of Royal Mail to make its highly contentious and, more importantly, profitable Postcode Address File (PAF) database available for free, remains to be seen. ®

Bootnote

We at Vulture Towers assume the Tories own take on "skunkworks" has nothing whatsoever to do with this colourful, down-wid-da-kids outfit, even if it does sport head wear once spotted on William Hague's shiny bonce.

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