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Portuguese authorities must consider open source

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All Portuguese public administrations must consider using open source for their office suites, email, web sites, document management and IT system management. Increasing this type of software is part of a major IT overhaul that was made public on 21 March.

The government plan makes it mandatory for public administrations to compare open source and proprietary software solutions, before purchasing technology solutions or services. "Government entities should always quantify the total costs of ownership, taking in mind direct and indirect costs."

It also wants public administrations to make sure that it retains the intellectual property over software applications that are made for the authorities. The government recommends using the European Union's public software licence EUPL.

The new rules on open source are part of 25 'rationalisation measures' that are detailed in the government's 'Strategic Plan to Rationalize and Decrease ICT Costs in Public Administration'. Other measures include implementing of the European Interoperability Framework, starting with mandatory guidelines for the architecture of IT systems. The plan calls for the creation of a national catalogue of software developed for and owned by the state. Portugal's government also announces it will create a government cloud computing platform, including virtualised desktops.

Portugal's Council of Ministers estimates these measures will result in cost savings up to 500 million euros per year.

Better than discounts
In a statement published on 23 March, ESOP, an association of Portuguese open source service providers, calls the new IT strategy an 'ambitious initiative, pointing in the right direction'.

The group commends many of the government's IT actions, especially those on open standards, interoperability and open source. "If thoroughly planned and diligently executed, the adoption of open source may well contribute to significant cuts in public spending."

ESOP argues that a push of open source will give opportunities to Portuguese IT service providers. "Even if the cost savings were the same, the economic effects are quite different from securing license discounts from the 'usual' providers."

The association adds that at this moment, 'serious flaws' in tendering of technology and policies overlooking interoperability are hindering the adoption of open source.

More information:
Global Strategic Plan to Rationalize and Decrease ICT Costs in Public Administration (pdf)
ESOP press release


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