The South African State Information Technology Agency (Sita) is looking for an open source distribution and supplier to assist government to migrate to open source.

Sita, the South African government's technology procurement agency, recently issued a request for bid calling for potential suppliers of open source solutions to government.

The bid request is for the "procurement of an open source distribution (operating system and applications) and related software support services fro personal computers for a period of three years."

The agency says it is looking for a "transversal contract for SITA and government departments to exercise the option of deploying OSS solutions where and when required."

Reading through the documentation it is heavily focused on providing desktop open source applications that could replace proprietary ones. There is also a strong focus on the need to "interoperate" with existing proprietary applications that would be required for a "phased migration process".

Last week the agency held a compulsory briefing for all bidders ahead of the 7 October deadline for submissions.

Sita says it will be looking to select more than one preferred supplier "with a view to concluding a service level agreement."

The South African government has been a long-time advocate of using open source software and has a Cabinet-level open source strategy that was approved in June of 2003.