The Dutch government plans to remove legal roadblocks to allow public services to publish the source code of their ICT solutions. A pending proposal from the government to the parliament will change the country’s rules of conduct that minimise interference with the private sector. Next year, the government will begin encouraging public services to publish their source code publicly.
In recent months, the government has been working on a proposal to change its rules of conduct. The proposal has not yet been submitted to the Dutch parliament, but the changes are anticipated in NL DIGIbeter, a brochure detailing the country’s digital agenda that was published in August. This week, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry referred to the brochure when asked about pending changes to the rules of conduct.
In the brochure (in Dutch) the government explains that it plans to encourage open source with the aim of reducing its dependence on software suppliers and giving citizens more insight into government software. It plans to create a network of expertise and to provide recommendations on making available source code as open source. “In addition, we want to encourage public services to work according to open source principles,” the brochure says. “We will remove obstacles to the release of open source as much as possible.” A campaign to encourage public services to share their code will start in 2019, the brochure indicates.
The ‘Digital Agenda’ also suggests that the government is thinking about mandating the use of open source wherever possible. Making this a binding requirement could boost innovation, as has already happened in the Netherlands with the mandatory use of open standards and open data.
The agenda places the promotion of open source within a broader context of making society ‘digitally inclusive’. The government wants to encourage citizens and others to be able to study government software technology, contribute to its development, and use it to build additional services and solutions. “Open source increases the openness of government systems, and prevents us being tied to just a few suppliers.”