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Friday, April 15, 2005

Open source in the public sector, who’s lagging?

I came across this article published in early 2005, it talks about European governments and their position vis-à-vis open source. The study conducted on 371 local authorities across 13 European countries shows some interesting results. France was the leader with 71% local authorities using open source followed by Germany with 68% and Holland with 55%. In the UK the number was much lower, only 32%.

Since the article was published, things have changed in the UK. A new government funded initiative called the Open Source Academy was created to proactively push open source. The Academy brings together a consortium of 10 founding partners who, with support from industry, will launch a program aimed at tackling each of the major obstacles to open source adoption. It aims to provide a vehicle that will actively join up public sector work on OSS with European-wide initiatives during the year of the UK's EU Presidency.

The public sector in the UK is still lagging behind other European countries/cities (such as Munich, Paris or Norway) in terms of open-source adoption, but the open source academy aims at changing that.

In another article published by CNET, Stephen Shankland seems to indicate that the U.S. public sector is moving even slower even if open source is used by the Department of Defense, the U.S. Census Bureau and a few regional governments (like the city of Austin), the significant presence of Microsoft and the desire to boost U.S. companies is an impediment to open source adoption. According to Shankland, lobbying and advocacy group such as the Initiative for Software Choice (with members like Microsoft, Intel, and EDS) strongly oppose cases in which governments mandate use of or preference for open-source software which is what EU governments are actively doing.

How do you think open source is doing in the U.S. public sector? What do you think about the Initiative for Software Choice?

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