The Parliament of Saxony, one of Germany’s 16 federal states, has adopted a motion to develop an Open Source strategy (press release) to counter the issue of the administration’s increasing dependencies on individual software vendors due to more and more public services going digital (motion point I.1). The motion proposes increased transparency and the use of Open Source solutions in the state’s administration.
We talked with Dr Daniel Gerber, spokesperson for digitalisation and network policy for Bündnisgrüne (Green parliamentary group in Saxony), to get some more details on this motion which was also supported by coalition partners CDU and SPD.
The motion came with a calculation of costs for software used by the administration, including how much could be invested differently. The strategy is to feature a catalogue of criteria that can be used to evaluate open source in comparison with proprietary alternatives (point II.2) and the promotion of the conversion and acceptance by employees of the Saxon administration of open source software (point II.5).
Q: The voting of this strategy was accompanied by a calculation of software costs, what insights did this provide?
Dr Daniel Gerber: “My enquiry revealed that about 70 million euro is currently spent per year on software and necessary modifications. However, my question was much more concerned with another problem: Currently, there is no central estimation of costs for IT services and IT products in the administration. Thus, all ministries buy what they want—and that doesn't work together in some cases. We must therefore first create an overview of which software is used where and how it can be replaced by open source software.”
Q: The motion quotes the European Commission’s Digital Strategy. Would you say this helped your push towards Open Source at the federal state level?
DG: “The European Commission’s Digital Strategy was an important basis in the negotiations on the Open Source Strategy for Saxony. I regularly quote the European Commission's study and this has already led to contacts with other municipal actors.”
Q: Many administrations are looking for ways to use Open Source solutions in their public services. There are very interesting similar initiatives in Germany, such as the work of Dataport with several other German states. Have you been in contact with these administrations to learn more about how to implement your Open Source Strategy?
DG: “First of all, it is important to note that the Open Source Strategy was an initiative of the Saxon parliament. Therefore, the exchange with other federal states took place mainly at the parliamentary level: I am in permanent exchange with other Green parliamentarians about the latest initiatives and their content. In my work I also benefit from regular contacts with the open source community (such as Open Source Business Alliance) and open data community, both from civil society and from the business community. In this context, I would like to see workplace and cloud solutions based on open source in the administration of Saxony.”
Dr Daniel Gerber, thanks for having taken the time to discuss this!