Struggling with lock-in

Slovakia ‘should reinvigorate its open source push’

Published on: 14/12/2018
Last update: 04/04/2019

In the Slovak Republic, public services turn to open source software only because of highly-motivated innovation champions in their organisation. Outside of these, open source is not commonly considered, a government official told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

Hope for a renewed push is vested in the Agency for Network and Electronic Services (NASES), which in January will become part of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization.

In 2016 and 2017, the government committed to do more with open source, saying that by 2020 some 40 % of public services should use this type of software. In 2017, the republic agreed on measures to get rid of IT vendor lock-in. It mandated that new software solutions should be based on open ICT standards and that desktop applications should work on any desktop operating system. The country also contributed a national action plan when it signed the 2016 ‘Paris Declaration’ of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Member countries of the OGP promote open government, citizen participation and the use of new technology to modernise government.

The commitments

Slovakia’s OGP commitments included making it easy for public services to develop and share open source, documenting its use of open source, and undertaking a feasibility study. Subsequently, lists of open source software in use at ministries and other public services have been made available on the country’s open data portal. These lists show, for example, that the ministry of agriculture and rural development uses VLC, 7zip, UltraVNC, Gimp, Inkscape and other common open source utilities.

Another OGP result is a 2017 document that provides an introduction to open source use in public services. It includes links to policies and practices in France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

According to one government official, Slovakia’s public services continue to struggle with their legacy IT systems, which keep them tied to their IT vendors. However, new IT requirements are gradually removing this barrier, the official said.

More information:

Introduction to open source policies, outcome of OGP commitment 19
OSOR news item