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Swedish policy makers want end to IT vendor lock-in

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Swedish public administrations have to get rid of IT vendor lock-in, members of parliament and key government representatives agreed at a meeting last week. Public administrations must gain the expertise to deal with lock-in and the government should do more to promote open IT standards, they said.

The meeting at the Swedish parliament was organised by Members of Parliament Monica Green, Fredrik Christensson, and Björn Lundell, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Skövde.

Lundell, a specialist in open standards, presented the research carried out for the Swedish Competition Authority, which includes seven strategies for sustainable digitisation.

From left to right: Daniel Melin, Göran Westerlund, Mathias Lassinantti Jansson, Björn Lundell, Monica Green and Fredrik Christensson Foto: Lars-Uno Olausson

Irked

“The event involved representatives from many different authorities”, MP Green told OSOR, “and we all share the view that it must be easier to get rid of IT vendor lock-in.” Speaking to Skövde’s local newspaper Skaraborg Läns Tidning, MP Green said that public administrations must demand open standards when procuring IT solutions.

“Local, national and European politicians need to take the lead on open source and open data”, MP Fredrik Christensson told OSOR.

Lundell said that attendees expressed frustration over the lack of government leadership. “For public administrations, lock-in is a real problem. The organisations should improve their own skills on how to deal with it, but government policies would help”, he said.

Alexander Wall, special adviser on Digital Government at the Ministry of Finance, told OSOR that open standards were essential to guarantee access to government data preserved in digital archives. “In Sweden the National Government Service Centre has been commissioned to provide a digital archive service to the public sector. Open standards are to be promoted in providing this service.”

Government IT procurement specialist Daniel Melin said that the public sector should realise that it is not just a victim, but part of the problem. “Public administrations create a lot of documents, and it is really bad if these are locked-in to one specific software solution.”

More information:

Problems with closed standards for IT procurement - report for Swedish Competition Authority (in Swedish)
KIVOS news item (in Swedish)
Press release by the University of Skovde (in Swedish)