A new step towards Open Source for Dortmund:

A new step towards Open Source for Dortmund:

Published on: 13/01/2023

The City of Dortmund is moving forward with its goals to make the use and development of Open Source the norm for its public administration by 2025. On 15 December, the city council approved the creation of a new Digital Sovereignty and Open Source Coordination Unit for which a recruitment notice was issued. The long term objective is to collaborate with other German cities through the upcoming “Open Source Big 3” project to define a common policy for Open Source governance. 

Dortmund’s work to gain control over their digital infrastructures began already in 2016, when the city stated that it accepts electronic documents in the Open Document format. In 2018, the city developed a comprehensive approach to open standards and detailing the city’s digitalisation plan. Also in 2021, we reported about how Dortmund decided to give preference in public procurement to Open Source software. 

It is through the working group on Free Software that the initial recommendation for a Coordination body for Open Source was suggested in October last year. Mentioned in the “Roadmap Memorandum zur Digitalisierung 2020 – 2025” of the city, this suggestion builds upon a declaration of the German Ministry of Interior on the need for stronger digital sovereignty. This Coordination Unit will first conduct some research work on how to best implement Open Source solutions in the city administration. This unit will be responsible for developing open source governance as a cross-sectional task of the city administration, in cooperation with the Kommunale Gemeinschaftsstelle für Verwaltungsmanagement (KGSt). 

KGSt is a private company that provides hands-on, standardised communal services to cities from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Together with the KGSt, the city of Dortmund can potentially develop a reproducible Open Source governance model, which could then be reused by the members of the KGSt. This model will be developed collaboratively, and the city of Dortmund has already started a project with the cities of Munich and Berlin under the upcoming project of the Open Source Big 3. This name is not set in stone, as the long term objective is to invite other cities to join this project to extend the collaboration between them. 

We had the chance to discuss with Christian Nähle, Managing Director of the Do-FOSS initiative, to learn more about the adoption of this decision. Having taken part in the city’s debates around its Digitalisation, he pointed out the important role of the decision-making process regarding the evolution of the digitalisation strategy, which helped create a stable partnership with the KGSt. This collaboration helped strengthen the city’s plan towards an Open administration as the national recommendation on Digital sovereignty, as influential as it is, proved to be difficult for administrations to put into actions. 

The collaboration with other cities is also an essential part of this project and its future objective, as it also sets a collaborative aspect to the development of an Open Source governance. Christian Nähle also explained the importance of the open CoDE platform (which we covered in September) for this collaboration. Through this repository targeted at public administrations, the “Open Source Big 3” would be able to share their work with each other and possibly with future members of the project. 

This project shows great promise for new ways for cities to organise their own governance of Open Source. If you are interested in this project, don’t miss the upcoming KGSt report on their latest developments on Open Source in cities, which will be a follow-up to their 2021 report.