The government of Estonia has published its policy on open source software, following a conference in the capital Tallinn last week.
The government also recommends the use of the European Union's public licence (EUPL) for open source software developed for Estonian public administrations. To facilitate this, Estonia is about to start an open source software development website, considering the using of the virtual forge services offered by the OSOR.
The newly published open source policy is part of Estonia IT interoperability framework. It outlines principles for public administrations when purchasing software. For instance, open standards should be supported by all new IT systems and by interacting IT systems and joint projects. The policy also says that 'depending on certain-brand-based products and services is to be avoided in information systems'.
The open source policy should help the public sector to cut costs and make the government more open. Other goals are to increase re-use and to make the government less dependent on certain software products.
The policy also aims to support Estonia's ICT sector. "In the case of open-source software, the Estonian ICT sector will be able to keep the money so far spent on 'boxed products'. Instead of mechanical sales, high-qualification intensive development work will prevail."
"With this policy we try to change the existing paradigm", comments Uuno Vallner, head of the e-government unit at Estonia's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. "In some cases it is better to choose proprietary and in other cases open-source software. The framework attempts to create common mechanisms and methods the public sector can use to assess and select software to be procured."
The framework also requires that the software developments commissioned by the public sector should be made available, using the EUPL.
Estland's Software Framework (part of the National IT Interoperability Framework, in Estonian)
Estonia's software framework (pdf, in Estonian)
Article on Estonian software framework (in English)