The administration of the Swiss canton of Bern has decided that, in principle, software developed by or for public administrations should be made freely available. Using open source software helps to reduce the canton's dependence on software vendors and in the long-term will reduce ICT costs, the Bern administration writes on 23 October. It has accepted a similar motion submitted this summer by six council members.
The government writes that, in procurement procedures, it wants a comparison of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of software solutions, including licence costs, management, maintenance and training. It also suggest to give extra points to those service providers that respond to a call for tender with an open source solution.
The Swiss canton's administration cautions that it does not want public administrations to compete with software vendors. It refers to protest by a proprietary software firm based in Bern to last years' switch by the canton's Justice Department to OpenJustitia, an open source document management system developed over the past years by the Swiss Federal Court.
"The government is of the opinion that the provision of open source by public administration is politically acceptable in those cases where there is not already a suitable proprietary solution. The absence of such a solution is an indication that the administration's software requirement is a niche, uninteresting for the private sector."
The Bern government has not decided what to do if publicly funded software solutions threaten proprietary alternatives. It is waiting on the outcome of a recommendation being prepared by the Federal Office of Justice.
The decision by the canton is a response to a motion submitted on 11 June 2013. It calls on the Bern Canton to make its software solutions available as open source. In a statement published yesterday by /ch/open, a Swiss organisation advocating open source and open standards, the council members welcomed the response. They expect that their motion will next be accepted by the canton council.
"A change of attitude towards open source software is underway", the statements cites councillor Marc Jost. "Given its tight financial situation, the canton recognises that open source provides a way to capitalise synergies with other public administrations."