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Swiss to study economic potential of open source

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The Swiss government is to survey the economic potential of public administrations' use of open source software, and the federal government is to review its 2005 strategy on this type of software solutions, following questions by two members of the Swiss Parliamentarian Group on Digital Sustainability.

Parliament member Edith Graf-Litscher, representative of the Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz (SP) for the Canton of Thurgau, wants to know if the Federal government has concerns weighing open source and proprietary alternatives. She sent a list of seven questions, including for the governments' top-ten proprietary software vendors, specifying amounts spent on licences and maintenance. The MP also wants to know what the federal government is doing to enhance cooperation with other public administrations on using open source software. "How could a management strategy be developed that involves all of Switzerland's public administrations?"

In a press release published last Friday, the Swiss Parliamentarian Group on Digital Sustainability explains that the government's 2005 strategy failed to get public administrations to consider open source solutions to proprietary software. Many continue to use proprietary solutions, and according to the group, thyy are bypassing public procurement and ignoring interoperability. The federal government's standard catalogue almost exclusively mentions proprietary software, writes the group, "although in most categories there are viable open source alternatives".

Neglected standard

The group also points out that public administrations neglect to support the Open Document Format (ODF), forcing others to use proprietary products to process the government's electronic documents.

MP Christian Wasserfallen, representing the FDP.Die Liberalen for the Canton of Bern, wants the Federal Council to report on the existing and potential future macro-economic savings of open source software. He also wants to know what measures the federal government could take to increase the potential of this type of software solutions.

The group points to a 2006 study estimating that Europe's public administrations could save around 36 per cent of their IT costs by increasing their use of open source. A 2012 study values the annual savings achieved by open source in European countries at 114 billion euro, with its total contribution to the European economy around 342 billion euro. "These studies show open source's enormous economic potential."

 

More information:

Press release Swiss parliament's 'Digital Sustainability' (in German)
Partial strategy: Open Source Software
Standards of the Swiss Federal administration
Study on the: Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU
OSOR news item