This paper draws upon the results of a qualitative study on the procurement and adoption of open source software by public sector organizations spanning Europe, Brazil and the USA. The premise of this work was to understand the role ?cost? or total cost of ownership of software plays in government procurement decisions. We found, however, that this was more a rhetoric to gain acceptance for open source and to achieve a level playing field. Interviews with key stakeholders from government agencies and system integrators led us to understand and organize our findings on open source adoption under four broad categories; economic concerns, technical and development features, risk management, and innovation and strategic issues. We conclude with a number of insights to help other public sector organizations make better procurement decisions for information technology.