Governments are encouraging the use of OSS in the public sector

Governments procuring Information Communication Technologies (ICT) are encouraging the use of Open Source Software (OSS) by increasingly moving towards Open Source software and making it easier for Open Source vendors to participate in tendering process.

America’s Federal Source Code Policy, OMB Memo 16-21, establishes policy regarding consideration of acquiring custom-developed code, requiring agencies to consider the value of publishing custom code as OSS, and establishing a OSS Pilot Program to release 20% of all custom-developed code as OSS.

The default position of 18F when developing new projects is to: “Use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), which is software that does not charge users a purchase or licensing fee for modifying or redistributing the source code, in our projects and contribute back to the Open Source community.” When commissioning new custom software, at least 20 percent of new custom-developed code must be released as Open Source Software.

The Government of United Kingdom shows similar intentions. It aims to actively and fairly consider Open Source solutions alongside proprietary ones in making procurement decisions. “Procurement decisions will be made on the basis on the best value for money solution to the business requirement, taking account of total lifetime cost of ownership of the solution, including exit and transition costs, after ensuring that solutions fulfill minimum and essential capability, security, scalability, transferability, support and manageability requirements.” In case the overall cost difference between open and proprietary is insignificant than Open Source products will be selected.

Point 12 of services standards encourages to make all new source code open and reusable. It requires explanation if source code cannot be published in public repository.

The European Open Source software strategy 2020-2023 is “to support funding the development and use of the ICT standards needed to further improve the interoperability and portability of the cloud. This includes making more use of Open Source elements by better integrating Open Source communities into standards development organizations’ standard setting processes…”

The Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Association for Technology, Telecommunications and new Media BITKOM also suggest that when preparing a tender document non-proprietary wordings should be used. It also recommends that compatibility with previously purchased proprietary solutions should not be enforced, instead it is recommended to request for their interoperability.

The government of Canada requires that where possible, Open Source software be used first. This policy aligns with the Digital Standards, that states “by using Open Source software, and open standards and solutions, the Government of Canada can expand its vendor pool to acquire digital services.”