The European institutions should make their editable documents available in an open format, that allow access without requiring purchasing specific software, says the Governor of South Tyrol, Arno Kompatscher. "The fundamental step in making digital documents freely available, is to ensure their compliance with widely accepted vendor-independent and standard formats. The European institutions should be a guarantor of public administration, ensuring that its documents can be accessed without cost."
Such a policy would help the South Tyrol government in its new IT approach, increasing its use of ICT solutions based on free and open source, the governor says.
South Tyrol's new policy was announced on 11 March. Responding to emailed questions, Governor Kompatscher said that the region is in favour of using free and open source solutions not only for new IT solutions, but also when upgrading existing IT components. "We've started to review our license costs. If there are free and open source alternatives, and where the costs and risks of changing are justified, we will switch to these."
The new policy is meant to reduce IT costs. Should this fail, the region must resort to reduce its workforce, in order to balance the region's budget. A second motivation is to strengthen the ICT companies in the region. "We are of course eager to promote the local IT sector. Our aim is to find areas and niches that can be covered by local IT enterprises with free and open source solutions. We are emphasising areas where we, as a regional administration, have special skills above and beyond IT."
The German city of Munich is an example to Governor Kompatscher, especially the encouragement given by the city's mayor, Christian Ude. The Governor says he will similarly support the IT department in facing reluctant departments and change management challenges: "Political commitment will be needed on my part, in order to realise our switch."
The Governor is also keen on re-using Munich's document template management tool, Wollmux, which the city is making available as open source. "Wollmux played a key role in Munich's migration project. Like in Munich, we also aim to consolidate and centralise the administration's document templates and office macros."
The province is also willing to contribute to the development of such tools. "If for example it turns out that Wollmux needs adaptation, we will make available the necessary resources, and we will share our modifications with the community."