It's official - ITIL is a commercial product
It is clear from reading a recent complaint report from the British Government agency OPSI (the Office of Public Sector Information,
part of the National Archives) that OGC and Van Haren Publishing aren't best mates any more. VHP allege a number of non-competitive practices, most of which OGC managed to duck as being outside the scope of OPSI's remit. Read the report yourself for the detail, but I take some interesting points from it:
1) OGC practices will be subject to much closer scrutiny under an "Information Fair Trader Scheme verification" later in 2010 (paragraph 78)
2) The sudden republication of the Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle book with the word "Official" dropped from the title (the only change in the book) may stem from OPSI's disapproval of the word, although its use on that book is apparently OK
3) PRINCE2 is part of OGC's "public task" and therefore subject to the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005, whereas ITIL is not. Why? Because apparently
There is no specific legislation setting out discrete functions for OGC... absence of a clear statutory role and framework
...and so OGC's scope of its "public task" is inferred from OGC's own vaguely stated aims, which happen to specifically refer to project management but not specifically to ITSM. Reading the aims (see the appendix to the report) I personally would see them as being equally as applicable to OGC's ITIL body of work as to PRINCE2, but apparently not. So OGC are free to squeeze ITIL for every buck they can.
[OGC] stated unambiguously that it had no policy remit in the area of IT service management. While this begs the question as to why it sponsors the publication of proprietary IT service management guides, we consider that ITIL cannot be construed as being within OGC's public task and it falls it falls outside the scope of the Regulations and this complaints procedure.
There it is in black and white: OGC are uncontrolled by the British Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations in what they do with ITIL, which is "proprietary". Which, as the report says, "begs the question" as to why they do it. OGC's goals make it clear why they do it: improving ITSM is as important as improving project management or any of the other domains in which OGC produce IP. But through a sleight-of-hand of the wording of their aims, and a failure of the government to define those aims, they weasel out of any control over ITIL.
Since OGC has recently been rolled into the new Efficiency and Reform Group within the Cabinet Office with a new boss (more of that soon) it will be fun to watch whether OGC adopts a less mercenary attitude to a body of knowledge which has benefited from extensive volunteer contribution and support over the years, and was once explicitly in the public domain, but is now held in the dungeons of Castle ITIL for the enrichment of the agency and its for-profit commercial partners. Roll on COBIT5.