Acquiring Open Source Software

The Directive on Management of Information Technology, Appendix C provides Mandatory Procedures for Enterprise Architecture Assessment that will be used by departmental Architecture Review Boards (ARB) and the Government of Canada Enterprise ARB as an assessment framework to review digital initiatives to ensure the GC acts as a single enterprise and to ensure departmental alignment with the GC digital direction.

These align with the Digital Standards and requirement C.2.3.8 of the Mandatory Procedures for Architecture Assessment which provide that, where possible, open source software be used first.

Law and policy applicable to the GC may require that the acquisition of software, software servicing or professional services relating to software be competed through an invitation to suppliers calling for the tender of the goods or services. However, where software can be acquired for free and alone, without any compulsory fees for manuals, media or services, and the Business Requirement substantiates the acquisition of OSS instead of Proprietary Software, the acquisition of such software through download or otherwise without a call for tenders may be possible.

In the event that Open Source Software has already been procured, or is not bound by Trade Contract Laws move to the ‘Using Open Source Software’ section.

Acquisition Principles

If open source software has not already been acquired by Canada, since it may be that the law requires the acquisition to be competed, the GC must substantiate, through its Concept Case and the formation of its Business Requirement, a bona fide operational reason to acquire Open Source Software instead of Proprietary Software, when OSS is chosen. This same justification is required for any proprietary software.

Therefore, prior to acquisition, your institution’s legal services unit should be consulted to review the software Business Requirements and to properly specify in any tender notice the contract terms that would apply to your acquisition.

This open source software policy guidance does not remove or nullify any other Government of Canada policy guidance, such as the Directive on the Management of Procurement and its associated Guidance. Where Canada acquires software on open source software terms, the Contracting Authority must first seek the appropriate exemptions from Treasury Board or other appropriate authorities if a resulting contract will contain terms that are not in accordance with such existing Government of Canada policies.

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