Cutting the IT budgets of public administrations will push them to use more open source software, expects Daniel Melin, a procurement specialist at 'Statens Inköpscentral', a Swedish procurement agency.
Melin was one of the speakers at the Free Society and Nordic summit, a conference that took place in the Swedish city of Gothenburg in November. He is closely involved in the development of a Framework Agreement that makes it easier for Sweden's public administrations to purchase IT services based on open source software from any of five preselected IT companies and their subcontractors.
The framework agreement has made it easier for public administrations to procure IT services based on free and open source solutions, says Melin. He cited recent numbers derived from E-Delegationen, a project that wants to make the public sector more accessible, showing that free and open source office tools are used on 21 percent of all public administration desktop PCs. This type of software is even more commonly used for servers (43 percent), for databases (39 percent) and for operating systems (30 percent).
The legal construction prepared by Statens Inköpscentral contain only a few clauses that are radically different from those in standard contracts, Melin said. These aim to create competition between suppliers, to minimise risks for buyers and to make sure that software developed with taxpayers' money is provided back to the community."
The procurement specialist finds that most public authorities in Sweden don't really care which type of software is used. "Most just want to buy an application and use it. They don't bother with freedom or licenses or sharing or making good use of taxpayer's money. Some even think it increases their status if they buy expensive proprietary software."