Richard Bergmair's Blog


==> The French presidency of the Council of the European Union has issued a “Declaration on the Common values and challenges of European Public Administrations”. It’s receiving accolades in software development circles for making direct mention of open-source software.

To me, it sounds very wishy-washy. The action verbs are “recognize the […] role played”, “promoting the sharing of […] solutions created/used”, and “promoting a fair redistribution of the value created […]”. This stuff is so vague that I have zero idea what it’s supposed to mean in practice.

The language also seems to be quite deliberately referring to stuff that’s already there and definitely not saying anything like putting more of it into place or systematically favouring open source over closed source or anything like that.

When software is developed in-house in public administration, then open-sourcing it, in my mind, is a no-brainer. But what sort of circumstances drive a government official to develop something in-house in the first place or adopt an open-source solution, when that competes with giving the government contract to industry cronies.

It would be really nice if we could get a clear policy framework that says: Whenever open-source is an option, the government must go with open-source. But we are far away from anyone in power even calling for that.

And we’ve seen some real setbacks where that is concerned: For example, the city administration of the city of Munich had that policy in the late 00s / early 10s, to the point where they had migrated 15000 workstations to Linux by 2013, shaving €10M/yr off Microsoft’s bill to the taxpayer. By the end of 2020, the city had migrated everything back to Windows. – See here, and here.

#politics#computers   |   Mar-17 2022