On 29 June, the OSOR community got together to discuss how public administrations can adapt to open source software (OSS) development culture. Organised as part of OSOR’s webinar series on public administrations’ journey towards the adoption of OSS, the webinar was an opportunity to hear from two speakers, Stig B. Dørmænen, Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency and Philippe Bareille, open source officer at the City of Paris and project manager of Lutece. The recording of the event, as well as the supporting presentations are available at the bottom of this page.
In order to foster public administrations’ uptake of OSS and their active contributions to open source communities, it is necessary to adapt to an OSS development culture. Shifting public administrations’ mindset from choosing proprietary off-the-shelf solutions to co-constructing open source solutions can bring its challenges.
Stig shared insights stemming from his experience at the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency (DigDir), a public administration currently pursuing the goal of increasing its uptake of OSS and establishing an in-house OSS development culture.
One of the first steps taken by the DigDir, which is also the national authority on standardization, has been to start in-sourcing software developers in order to retain the expertise on its OSS. Consequently, DigDir is in a better position to ensure the interoperability between its different software services as it acquired greater ownership of the code.
Additionally, Stig explained that DigDir’s use of and contribution to OSS is driven by a bottom-up approach. Developers, organised in autonomous teams, have their say in several key decisions related to software development such as the choice of programming languages. This bottom-up approach coupled with a shift towards the development of a series of microservices, rather than the “legacy monoliths”, aim at encouraging the involvement of the open source community and empower the internal teams. As an example, developers are welcome to use their own GitHub account, which is a way to encourage ownership, and DigDir launched the Data Village, an open forum for discussion on data and software.
Finally, Stig described the challenges ahead of DigDir’s path towards the adaptation to OSS development culture. One of them is the lack of corporate guidelines on OSS and the need to get top management to promote it. Another one is the choice of languages for documentation: for the time being, documentation is only published in Norwegian to encourage the local open source community to contribute to DigDir’s solutions. However, to expand the outreach of DigDir’s solutions, the team is discussing the possibility of translating the documentation to English.
Philippe presented how the City of Paris fostered an OSS development culture over the years in the frame of the Lutece project, an open source portal engine launched in 2002, which allows public administrations to quickly create a dynamic website or web application. The Lutece team’s motto is “public money should fund public code”: the objective is not to protect the mayor of Paris’ database
The use of Lutece is widespread in Parisian public administrations: it counts more than 300 city services and more than 500 plug-ins as of 2021. The modular and stable software architecture of Lutece, based on Java EE, makes it a reliable tool and easy to adapt to users’ needs.
Philippe underlined that external communication is key to increase the uptake of Lutece by other administrations. Awareness raising activities include, for example, collaboration with the OW2 open source organisation, which contributed to Lutece’s outreach in the EU and beyond. Philippe’s team is now collaborating with several public administrations such as the city of Budapest which is reusing and contributing to Lutece’s participatory budget tool.
Lutece version 7 is to be released this summer and Philippe’s team is happy to get in touch with all public administrations interested in the solution and open source in general.
The recording of the webinar is available below:
The next OSOR webinar will explore how to build cross-administration collaboration for open source at the regional level. Stay tuned for more information!
The presentations shared during the webinar are accessible via the links below: