Europe's public administrations are struggling to profit from the benefits of free and open source software solutions, including huge costs savings and innovations. A case study published earlier this week on Joinup shows that open source policies alone are not enough to bridge the gap between governments and those with in-depth open source expertise.
"Public agencies in most countries lack the expertise, the experience, the will, and sometimes the courage to purchase open source."
The gap between authorities and open source is until now bridged by system integrators, the case study shows. These however lack in-depth expertise in open source, and generally don't have good connections with the developer communities. For the moment the system integrators offer business continuity, professional services and management skills that small open source specialists are yet unable to provide.
"We see a similar situation in the public agencies. The right people, familiar with the huge cost savings and other benefits open source could bring, are at the right positions. But there is a lot of inertia, making it hard for public agencies to take in this new model."
The case study is the second in a two-part series on the effect of IT policies on providers of open source software services. The first part was published on Joinup last week.
This second case study is based on interviews with government representatives in Spain and the United Kingdom. The case also reviews France's recently refreshed open source policy. "Despite being asked for input several times over recent months, the German government was not able to respond to our requests."
Issues in open source procurement in the European public sector II
Issues in open source procurement in the European public sector I
Joinup news item