A lack of understanding of free and open source software is hindering its uptake by Dutch public administrations, writes Minister for the Central Government Sector Stef Blok in a letter to the country’s House of Representatives. Not knowing how to deal with software errors, is a service risk that “multiple organisations have experienced”, the minister says.
The minister’s observations on the implementation of free and open source software by central and local government is included in last week’s report on the central government’s initiative to tackle failures of its large-scale ICT projects.
In his letter, Minister Blok responds to last year’s parliamentary resolution, calling on the government to do more to get rid of IT vendor lock-in.
When procuring ICT solutions, central government organisations will select open source alternatives when equal to proprietary software, and when cost effective, the minister writes. As an example he refers to the Ministry for Education, which switched some of its core services to open source solutions. “Their experiences are being shared with others in the central government”, Minister Blok adds.
The government is giving closed source and open source software equal opportunities, the minister assures. He adds that procuring officers should not need to explain why they select closed source.
The minister warns that, although open source software means no licence fees, there are costs involved with implementation and management, “and when adapting, one is again dependent on one vendor.”
The latter is incorrect, and the minister misses the crucial point of open source, comments Member of Parliament Astrid Oosenbrug. “Key are the accountability, auditability and reuse that open source software allows. This is as important as getting rid of IT vendor lock-in.”