The IT department of the city of Dortmund, Germany's eighth largest city, is considering the feasibility of increasing its use of free and open source. The IT department is studying a new policy paper, that was made public two weeks ago.
Open source software is politically, economically and technically advantageous, writes the paper's author, Christian Nähle, one of the Dortmund's civil servants. He explains that this type of software strengthens democracy, since it allows a public review of the code's functions and also offers the best possible insight in administrative processes.
Nähle argues that open source also helps to avoid monopolies and IT vendor lock-in. Enhanced competition will increase options for smaller and regional companies. "It is worth calculating if switching to open source will cost Dortmund's administration less than the proprietary applications it now uses."
"A decision to use open source in the long-term will lead to increasing collaboration with other municipalities, by freely allowing sharing and re-use."
The policy proposal is now being read by the IT-Department, says Nähle. "This could take a couple of months, but I hope the paper will result in an initiative to rid Dortmund of its IT vendor lock-in. Publicly employed software must be controlled by the public and not by private companies."
The policy document was made available on the website of the open source centre of the German federal government, the OSS Kompetenzzentrum, on 19 April.
Dortmund's open source policy proposal (in German)