Case Study on Deployment of Open Source Software in Government Offices

Sep 18, 2007

The results of a survey that asked 955 organizations in the public sector from 13 EU countries about their affinity to Open Source software were recently released. At the same time, the survey investigated six Open Source development projects maintained by public authorities.

The European Commission commissioned the survey. Unisys and Merit (Maastricht Economic and social Research and training Institute on Innovation and Technology) collected the data in 2004, and completed the survey in April this year.

Almost 40 percent of the respondents viewed the support situation for Open Source software as problematic or too expensive. However, this opinion was voiced by people who were not users, or had no experience, of Open Source applications. In contrast to this Open Source software users said that support wasn't an issue. At the same time, the respondents said that cost savings were the motivating factor in just fifty percent of cases, although all respondents said that they have cut costs by deploying Open Source.

According to the survey, the biggest obstacle to launching government software projects was the lack of IT specialists. IT departments were the initiators of existing projects in five out six cases. The reason for this is that decision makers and staff working for authorities have a limited view of their own organizations, and they do not recognize the potential that interaction with citizens, software users and the software community holds for them Decision makers working for authorities must be made more aware of the advantages that Open Source software development hold for them, said the authors. The public sector could also project a positive image of government-maintained Open Source projects, they said.

The complete 44 page survey is available from the "Public Sector and Open Source" website. Besides the survey, a six page summary (PDF, 80 KB) comprising the first six pages of the longer document is also available. The website is directed at IT decision makers and planners, and strategists working in the public sector, its authors say.

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