Five open source advocacy groups have asked the Hungarian government to publish how much the country spends on proprietary software licences.
In their open letter to the Directorate General for Central Services (KSZF, the Hungarian government's procurement agency) published on Tuesday, the groups also call on the government to increase its use of open source alternatives.
The letter is part of a protest that started last month over the way the KSZF procurement agency generates part of its budget. The agency takes two percent commission on all government procurement contracts. The groups say this motivates KSZF to sign expensive licence deals and to favour proprietary over open source software.
The open letter was published on the web site of the Hungarian branch of the ODF Alliance. The other signatories are the society of civil liberties (TASZ), the Free Software Foundation Hungary (FSF), the Hungarian Linux industry association (LIPS) and the Linux User Group (LME).
The advocacy groups call on the procurement department to publish the exact amounts the government has spent in the past two years on proprietary software licences and services. "We'd like to know how much taxpayers have been paying on Microsoft licences."
The groups gleaned from several available sources and documents that the government last year spent 9.5 billion forints (about 35 million euro) on Microsoft software. It says that this year Hungary spent 1.75 billion (about 6.3 million euro) on software licences for education, and is paying billions on consultations and services to Microsoft Hungary.
The group estimates that switching to ODF would help the government save about a hundred billion forints (more than 300 million euro) on the four-year software licence contracts.
The ODF Alliance in Hungary on 30 September wrote a letter to KSZF to protest renewing a licence contract with Microsoft for office applications. The group also urged KSFZ to use applications based on open standards.
In a reply, KSZF said for instance that it is studying moving all government institutions over to the same version of Microsoft Office, saying this would reduce the cost of training and maintenance. The procurement office also replied that moving to alternatives would increase such costs during the transition period.
ODF Alliance open letter (in Hungarian)
Earlier letter by the ODF Alliance (in Hungarian)
KSZF statement (in Hungarian)