Cross-administration collaboration on OSS - webinar takeaways

Key takeaways from the webinar on building cross-administration collaboration on OSS projects

Published on: 01/09/2021

On 5 August, the OSOR community joined the webinar on building cross-administration collaboration on open source software (OSS) projects. During the event, Jacco Brouwer, community manager at the Association of Dutch Municipalities, and Rasmus Frey, Head of Secretariat at OS2, a Public Digitalisation Network uniting public members and affiliated private companies, shared their experiences in fostering collaboration on open source between local public administrations in the Netherlands and in Denmark. Links to the recording of the event and the supporting presentations are available at the bottom of this page.


Jacco Brouwer

Jacco presented the role of the Dutch Association of Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG) in helping its members to put into practice the government’s ‘Open unless’ policy. As part of its activities, VNG now also acts as an incubator for fostering public administration collaboration around open source. The VNG is responsible for managing collaborations between local public administrations, promoting the developed initiatives, and managing technical products. It also supports municipalities with procurement processes.

Although the VNG aims to simplify the creation of open source solutions for municipalities, the development of new OSS projects is hampered by several factors such as the limited number of administrations acting as project initiators or the lack of long-term vision and investment strategy. According to Jacco, establishing new structures for financing, procurement, and risk control to support long-term strategies could facilitate the adoption of specifically tailored OSS projects by multiple municipalities.


Rasmus Frey Rasmus’ introduction of OS2 retraced how the organisation evolved from an informal group of 5 enthusiastic municipalities into a full-fledged organisation. Currently, 70 Danish municipalities are members of OS2, which is acting as a central body supporting local public administrations with the collaborative development of OSS projects. OS2 is responsible for scaling up the solutions developed by its members, their sustainability, and the shareability of the source code and its quality.

Each solution developed by OS2 and its members is independently organised and has its own open source community, working groups, priorities, and financing model. Rasmus highlighted the importance of having open source enthusiasts within public administrations to lead a successful collaborative project. He also discussed how adopting clear and transparent formal rules related to procurement, compliance, contribution, and software release can contribute to smooth development of OSS solutions.

Both speakers agreed that one of the main factors helping to foster collaboration between public administrations in their countries is the existence of an organisation that helps to pool resources and knowledge around OSS. Recognising the specific needs of municipalities and showing that they can be successfully addressed through the adoption of open source can be the first step towards engaging more public administrations in OSS projects. For more tips on the cross-administration collaboration and to take a closer look at the exchange between our two speakers, check out the webinar’s recording below:


The presentations shared during the webinar are accessible via the links below: