The administration of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna will switch to the open source office suite OpenOffice. This way, it hopes to save about 2 million euro on licences for a proprietary alternative, the region announced on 7 October. To prepare the migration, a three-month pilot has been started at the Directorate-General for Agriculture, with 300 workstations. All other regional departments will follow by the end of next year.
The region employs 3,545 civil servants.
"The decision to make this change, is based on research that involved Italian and European administrations. It is also an opportunity to listen to our employees", the region writes in a statement made public this Monday.
An internal survey showed that the vast majority of workers is using a proprietary office suite that is now ten years old. Instead of spending 2 million to upgrade 3200 proprietary licences that would expire next year, the province decided to switch to OpenOffice, offering " basically the same functionality".
In the statement, Donatella Bortolazzi, the region's councillor responsible for human resources and organisation, says that the switch will save money without sacrificing technological capabilities. "This is necessary for governments aiming to achieve their objectives of efficiency and effectiveness, delivering services to citizens."
The region has reserved 220 thousand euro to prepare the switch to OpenOffice.
According to Italian blogger Marco Giannini, an advocate of free and open source software, the region will start making training available to its employees. "This is similar to the migration in the Province of Macerata."
The region has already some experience with the use of OpenOffice. In 2008 and 2009 it carried out a first test, involving between 100 and 300 users. According to a 2011 report by the council, the group had problems integrating the software with other solutions and in converting electronic documents.
Announcement on the portal of Emilia-Romagna region (in Italian)
Blog post by Marco Giannini (in Italian)
Regional council report from 2011 (in Italian, pdf)
Regional council report from 2013 (in Italian, pdf)
Italian province of Macerata halfway LibreOffice migration