Half of the EU Member States have legislation covering sharing or re-use policy, reports a study published on Joinup on 4 March. Governments commonly share publicly their lists of standards, software, and semantic assets such as XML schemas, glossaries and code sets. Some also share organisational assets such as reference architectures and procurement methods.
Countries and regions with policies on open source policies or software re-use policies include Spain, Spain's Basque Region, Estonia, France, Italt, Malta and the Netherlands. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Communities, is working on a policy for sharing its software solutions. Most of these policies are not enforced, but usually done on a 'comply or explain' basis.
The study indicates that public administration's open source projects are shifting towards shared services. This is the model chosen by the municipal co-operation project Friprogforeningen in Norway, offering several open source-based solutions for course management, helpdesk and bug-tracking. "Most of Friprogforeningen users now prefer the online version, distributed by cloud services", reports Clémentine Valayer, management consultant and author of the study.
A second example of a move toward the cloud is IMIO, an inter-municipal public company for software pooling in south Belgium. It now includes 150 local authorities, and has implemented 400 open source systems. IMIO is moving towards offering its services as 'Software as a service'.
Policies and rules
Successful government policies show that the policy by itself is not enough to move public administrations towards sharing and re-use. Such policies need to be placed in a context, for example by focussing on high-level goals such as interoperability, sustainability, saving costs or rationalisation. Others communicate the goals to their public administrations and create a culture for sharing and re-use. Governments could also consider to develop 'rules' for sharing and re-use, by making it part of procurement, or by defining licensing rules.
"Coordination is often lacking. Although policy is established at the government level it can be difficult to co-ordinate the joined effort at different levels of government."