Two researchers from the Dutch University of Delft chastise the country's Court of Audit's research into the benefits of public administration's use of open standards and open source. "It scientific approach is flawed. It lacks a consistent methodology and its results are not accountable."
The Court of Audit in March last year published a review of the benefits of a switch by public administrations to open source software and open standards. It concluded that the Dutch government will not benefit much from such a move, pointing out that proprietary software licences amount to about 4 percent of what the country's ministries spend on IT.
The Delft university researchers warn that the court's research has an "unjustified influence on ICT decisions made by national and foreign governments". "(Its) statements go beyond our national borders, where the report is wrongly considered authoritative."
Tineke Egyedi, vice president of the European Academy for Standardization and Bert Enserink, an associate professor on policy analysis, write that the court has failed to take into account the long-term benefits of using open source and open standards. They suggest to translate the court's report into English, "so that those that refer to it can actually acquaint themselves with its confined content and scope and thus the limited extent of its claims."
The conclusions of the Dutch Court of Audit are used by advocates of proprietary software solutions. They were for instance brought up in one of the Digital Agenda Assembly workshops organised by the European Commission in Brussels in June 2011. The report is also mentioned in a study by the United Kingdom's Parliament's Office of Science and Technology (POST), published earlier this year.
The critical review by Egyedi and Enserink is one chapter in an upcoming book 'Jaarboek ICT en samenleving 2012' (ICT and Society yearbook 2012) to be published later this month.
Excerpt from the chapter by Egyedi and Enserink (pdf, in Dutch)
Announcement of Jaarboek ICT en samenleving 2012 (pdf, in Dutch)
Automatiseringgids news item (in Dutch)
Stedehouder blog post (in Dutch)
Joinup news item
UK Parliament‘s Office of Science and Technology (POST) note on open source and open standards