Submissions for the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) open source tender closed in October this year, with at least 12 technology companies vying to be placed on the preferred list of open source suppliers to the South African government over the next three years.

Information officer at the SITA Tender Board, Tinus Lourens, says the evaluation of the bids is scheduled to be completed by 2 December. However, even if the evaluation board meets this deadline, it is unlikely the Supplier Selection Authority (SSA) -- the board that ultimately awards tenders -- will meet to decide the winner of the tender before mid-January next year. The evaluation board's recommendations first have to be passed by the Supplier Selection Board before they get to the SSA.

Lourens says the SSA is unlikely to meet on December 20, the earliest realistic date that an award decision could be made. "The chances are very slim that that will happen," he says.

He says the progress of the tender is viewable through SITA's website, adding that the results of the tender will be published on the website once the companies involved have been notified. Lourens predicts an announcement by the beginning of February.

The tender attracted interest from a large number of technology suppliers, with IBM, Novell, Business Connexion, Canonical, ImpiLinux, Obsidian and even Microsoft representatives in attendance at the September 16 briefing.

Although the agency has been silent on the likely value of the tender, Sita GM Sidwell Ngqandu told Tectonic last month that he expects a 20% to 30% uptake of open source software in government over the next four years, adding up to a potentially valuable late Christmas present for those who make the grade.