The guide, to be a specialized supplement to the existing "Guide to ICT Sourcing" for Australian government departments and agencies, will also be designed to reinforce the federal government's position of "informed neutrality in ICT sourcing," the officials said in e-mailed replies to questions from ZDNet Australia.
News of the guide was first posted to Linux and open-source groups earlier this week.
Tony Judge, acting general manager of sourcing and security for the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), told ZDNet Australia that the guide, while targeted at federal agencies, would also be made available to their counterparts at the state and territory level.
He said a draft was expected to be completed and distributed for comment in mid-to-late August.
"The guide is being developed to assist agencies in making informed decisions on the merits of open-source software," the officials said, "and to provide a basis on which these solutions can be compared with other options on the criteria of fit for purpose and value for money."
The officials cited the increasing uptake of open-source solutions within the Australian government sector as the market driver behind preparing the new guide, citing "high-profile open-source software" initiatives being undertaken by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Centrelink and the Bureau of Meteorology.
Other agencies pursuing open-source initiatives include the Institute of Health and Welfare and AGIMO itself, which is using open source in its AusTender federal government tendering site and its Web content management system.
The guide's format is expected to closely follow that of the existing ICT sourcing guide, which provides information, approaches and tools for agencies to consider when adopting and implementing new ICT investments. This publication, however, will also deal with issues specific to open-source procurement.
"For example, in procuring an open-source solution, agencies may be purchasing services and support rather than a tangible product," the officials said. "It will also cover issues such as using open-source software in a mixed ICT environment--increasingly, the environment in which open source solutions are deployed.
"The guide will also address the legal and risk management issues associated with open-source solutions, as these areas differ considerably from the more familiar proprietary model."
Judge said AGIMO would turn to its existing panel of legal providers, some of whom have a strong background in open-source issues, to compile advice for the guide. The agency will turn to organizations in the private and public sectors to secure advice on risk management.
The officials also noted the guide would not carry legal weight. The Financial Management and Accountability Act (1997) and associated Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines will continue to form the legislative basis for Australian government procurement.Iain Ferguson of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.