This month, the city of Rome has begun making LibreOffice the only available suite of office productivity tools on its workstations. The first group to switch uses office tools less than one hour per month.
Rome will uninstall the proprietary alternative gradually, depending on the amount of time that office tools are used. This transition schedule is based on measurements that took place between June to December last year.
The city government decided to switch to using free and open source software in October 2016. The first step, an inventory of all desktop applications and server-based solutions, was completed in early 2017.
The list is the basis for the ongoing overhaul of contracts with software vendors and ICT service suppliers, says Cecilia Colasanti, the change manager working with the city councillor for digital innovation. The civil registry office, for example, has changed supplier for the first time in 34 years. The new supplier is required to check which proprietary software applications or components can be replaced by free and open source alternatives, and how much code redevelopment will be needed.
Requiring ICT service providers to help the city switch to open source is the key part of Rome’s migration strategy. Ms Colasanti expects that by 2020 all contracts will have been renewed in this way.
In April, Rome completed the installation of LibreOffice alongside the proprietary alternative on all of its 14,000 PC workstations. This means that city staff can try out LibreOffice and gradually get familiar with the office suite. Staff members who use the proprietary office suite intensively will not be forced to switch.
As part of the change management approach, the city is partly relying on 112 staff members who are in favour of free and open source. This means that, on average, the city has two such innovation champions per department. They help explain the reasons for the change to LibreOffice, and encourage their colleagues to find out more by pointing them to a Moodle-based eLearning portal. Last month, the champions received a two-day training course to boost their LibreOffice expertise and prepare them to help train their colleagues.