Taxpayers 1-0 Microsoft

Office-2013-vs-LibreOffice-4-featured

The Crown Commercial Service has signed a deal with an open source software company called Collabora Productivity that will make the Libre Office software available across all government departments. Libre Office is a free version of Microsoft Office, a software package that the government spends millions in license fees to use. Collabora will provide a specially tailored version of Libre Office for free and will provide technical assistance and support.

The CCS deal is their latest move in a long running campaign to stamp out the public sector culture of mindlessly funnelling taxpayer money to big software companies and comes on the back of Government Digital Service’s victory in forcing Microsoft into supporting Open Document Formats. Libre Office uses the ODF standard and by making Microsoft support the format, CCS have opened the door for a seamless switch to free opensource software such as Libre Office. Don’t expect Microsoft to go down without a fight…

GDS Implosion Continues

beaven out

The exodus of senior staff at Government Digital Services continues today with the resignation of transformation programme director Michael Beaven. Beaven oversaw the massive operation of moving government services such as voter registration online. His exit follows that of GDS head Mike Bracken, deputy director Tom Loosemore, director of strategy Russell Davies, head of user research Leisa Reichelt and director of design Ben Terrett.

The mass exodus comes amid rumours that GDS could end up on the chopping block in the upcoming spending review. Jumping before they’re pushed…

New GDS Head Announced

stephen

Stephen Foreshew-Cain has been chosen to be the new head of Government Digital Services following the shock announcement last week that Mike Bracken will be leaving to lead digital content and strategy at the Co-op.

Stephen who is the current GDS chief operating officer, will take over the reigns at a period of increasing uncertainty for the Cabinet Office’s crack team of digital transformation boffins, with three other senior members of staff announcing their departure in Bracken’s wake. Stephen’s appointment puts to rest rumours that an outsider would be parachuted in to fill the role and indicates that GDS is planning to move forward with the team Bracken built around him. Presumably there was a fair and open application process for the plum £155,000+ job…

Digital Government Boss Regrets Lack of Women

mike bracken

The biggest mistake Government Digital Service has made in recent years is failing to hire more women according to Mike Bracken, the head of GDS. Speaking to an audience at Policy Exchange yesterday, Bracken repeatedly refused to say what GDS should have done differently during his four year tenure other than to have diversified its workforce more.

“I regret not putting forward more stridently a generation of women in GDS at the start, and then in the technology profession. I regret not starting actively on that sooner, because while you’ve got a few great emerging leaders there’s not enough.”

Techno is a fan of the GDS and, of course, an ardent supporter of women in tech, up to a point. It seems Mike Bracken has forgotten about GDS’s failure to meet even half of its targets for online services, or how they borked the Home Office Visa and Immigration site, or how they fell way short of the mark with the Verify program and failed to turn around the disastrous rural payments system. Yet the biggest problem is that ‘only’ about 40% of GDS employees are women? What is the primary mission of the GDS? Gender equality or getting things to work?

Government Hire Boffin Who Slammed Their Shoddy Online ID System

verify gov

Government Digital Services have employed the services of one the boffins who claimed to have revealed worrying security flaws in their online verification program.  Dr George Danezis was one of the authors of a report that raised concerns over the “excessive trust” placed by GDS in their home-built central hub that connects users with third party contractors. According to the report this is a recipe for enabling “undetected mass surveillance”…

GDS have been careful not to cop to any of the boff’s claims, spinning that they welcomed the report’s “contribution“, but pooh-poohing the idea that their software could be used for surveillance. Before inviting the bloke who claimed the exact opposite to join their privacy and consumer advisory group…

Boffins Blast Government’s Online ID System

verify gov

The government’s online verification system Verify, is plagued by major security problems that could leave users vulnerable to online exploitation. According to newly released academic paper, there is a structural flaw in Verify, that could “support undetected mass surveillance“. The government says all its services requiring identity assurance will be using Verify by next year…

The report is particularly critical of the “excessive trust” placed by Verify in its central “hub” which connects users, third party contractors and the government. The hub is set up in such a way that if it was compromised, it could impersonate users – giving access to their accounts and private data. The hub was, of course, created in house…

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