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Government Departments: ICT

Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent estimate he has made of the number of external access points that exist between Government departments and agencies and external IT networks. (263180)

The Cabinet Office provides access to one external IT network from its internal corporate IT network via the Government Secure Intranet (GSI) service. The GSI is an accredited network that enables over 200 Government Departments and agencies to communicate securely with other connected Government organisations. In order to meet the arrangements for connection to the GSI; Departments and agencies must give assurance that they meet relevant security policies and have external access controls in place.

There can be a number of external access points to internal IT networks dependent on the business need of the particular Government Department or agency. Each Department is responsible for setting, implementing, recording and maintaining its own controls where applicable.

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what assessment his Department has made of the lifetime cost-effectiveness of (a) open source and (b) proprietary software for Government IT procurements; and if he will make a statement. (264156)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush (Mr. Slaughter) on 24 February 2009, Official Report, columns 592-93W. The Government seek to actively and fairly consider open source solutions alongside proprietary ones in making procurement decisions. The lifetime cost-effectiveness of open source or proprietary software depends on the individual circumstances of the business requirement. It is evaluated by Departments on a case-by-case basis to ensure overall best value for money for the taxpayer.

The Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: Government Action Plan is available via the following link at:

Copies are also available in the Libraries of the House.