The Agenzia per l'Italia Digitale (AGID) on Wednesday posted the criteria and guidelines on how to compare open source and proprietary software. The document is to help public administrations to give priority to free and open source solutions, and to the re-use of software paid for by public administrations. As part of the preparation, AGID during the past year held several meetings with industry experts, including free software specialists.
The guidelines were approved by AGID on 6 December.
The detailed, 70-page methodology is intended to be used by Italy's public administrations that need to acquire software products and solutions. In its introduction, AGID writes the guide should also interest many other ICT operators, including developers, system integrators and consultants. Next to providing a benchmark assessment, the guide also covers all involved legal aspects, including elements that can be used to prepare calls for tender.
The guide encourages the use of economic instruments to analyse costs of software solutions, over their complete life cycle. The text also aims to make public administrations aware of their responsibilities when choosing software solutions, and the opportunities and risks involved. "Often, this choice is delegated to external service providers who do not always share the public administration's objectives."
"The rule has been reaffirmed and is spelled out in plain Italian", comments the Italian lawyer Carlo Piana. Piana took part in the working group on behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe and the KDE foundation. On his blog this Thursday, he writes: "Now public administrations have no excuse not to comply with the guidelines. There are no more excuses, there is no room for ambiguous interpretations."
Stefano Zacchiroli, who participated in the working group representing the Debian project, complimented the agency with the publication of the software adoption guidelines. He warned that, in spite of its clear text, there is still room to betray the spirit of the law. "However, I'm confident this document will make it much harder to get away with favouring proprietary software. Advocates of software freedom will find it easier to challenge bogus criteria engineered to favour proprietary software, or the use of a selection process that doesn't follow the guidelines for the same reason."