Italy’s Court of Audit (Corte dei conti), which monitors public finances, will be including in its audits the savings generated by all of the country’s public services that share software created by or for them. The reasoning is that public services that do not share software solutions prevent others from reusing them, and so increase the costs to society. This is one of several newly introduced checks that focus on government digitalisation.
The focus on sharing and reuse of software solutions is the result of an agreement with the country’s Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. In December the Commissioner asked the court to check whether public services are using digital technologies to lower costs, including the use of cloud computing services, eID and electronic payments.
Article 69 of the Codice, translated into English by Italy’s government modernisation team (Team Digitale), reads:
“Public administrations that are owners of solutions and computer programs made to specific specifications of the public client, have the obligation to make the relevant source code available, complete with documentation and released in public repository under an open licence, for use free of charge for other public administrations or for legal entities wishing to adapt them to their own requirements, except when there are ‘justified reasons of public order and safety, national defence and electoral consultations’.”
“The court is now analysing if public services are adequately becoming digital,” explains Alessandro Ranellucci, the open source lead at Developers Italia, the software development team, and part of Team Digitale. “Public services that adopt Italy’s software sharing and reuse framework can achieve significant efficiencies. Or, conversely, a lack of effective digitalisation creates fiscal damage.”
According to Mr Ranellucci, the new round of audits is about to begin. Results could possibly be expected early next year.