More than a third of UK government tech workers still not using open source

The UK government committed itself to using more open source software in its Technology Code of Practice published in 2021, but 38 percent of government tech workers in a new study say they still don't use any open source software in their department.

On a more positive note the research from data management company Aiven shows 71 percent of UK government tech workers report the Government is now using more open source software compared to five years ago.

The research also finds that although 62 percent of departments are using open source software, only 10 percent have fully open-sourced their code. 22 percent of departments publish some of their code, and the rest (30 percent) use open source but don't publish their code.

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Heikki Nousiainen, CTO of Aiven says:

The UK Government is clearly committed to open source. Not only is it more cost-effective and secure, but our research found that it's also a great way to recruit and retain talent. In a competitive market, open source software means engineers can peek under the covers and see the types of projects they’ll be working on.

Working with Government Digital Service (GDS), we've directly seen the potential for open source in the public sector. The GOV.UK PaaS is a great example of how everyone from central government departments to local services like councils and fire departments can leverage non-proprietary code.

The challenge is that GDS is still in the minority amongst Government departments. There's work to be done to get other branches to use and contribute to open source projects. But the benefits are clear -- from collaboration to attracting talent, open source is the better way.

Three quarters of respondents say that open source will help in recruiting new developers. Reasons cited for this include having visibility into the types of projects they'll be working on even at the interview stage -- by being able to see them on GitHub (65 percent), feeling more confident the code base is clean and well documented when they start (52 percent), being proud of their work and wanting to share it (51 percent), and being able to put 'open source contributor' on their resume for future career prospects (44 percent).

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