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Row erupts over schools open-source project

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The UK's educational IT advisory body has awarded the contract for overseeing a schools open-source promotion project to a consultancy that appears to have little experience in open source, setting off an angry reaction from rival bidders.

On Friday, following Becta's decision to put The AlphaPlus Consultancy in charge of the Open Source Schools project, the chief executive of enterprise support company Sirius penned an open letter to Becta, accusing it of "political sleaze" and cronyism. The project aims to create a community of schools that use open-source software, to ease the sourcing and support of suitable software. The two-year contract is worth around £270,000.

"Today, Friday 13th, Becta's open-source posturing is exposed as a sham, empty spin covering 'business as usual' political sleaze," wrote Mark Taylor, who, in addition to his role as chief executive of Sirius, is the president of the Open Source Consortium. "Becta awarded their Open Source Schools project to establishment insiders and cronies, with no open-source credentials or capabilities, rather than organisations who could and would make the project work. The losers, as usual, are British schools, British schoolchildren and British taxpayers."

Speaking to ZDNet.co.uk on Friday, AlphaPlus's operations director, John Winkley, confirmed that his consultancy had worked with Becta before.

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