In the opinion of Christian Nähle, an employee of Dortmund City administration in Germany, Dortmund should prioritise open source software over its proprietary equivalents. According to Joinup, Nähle has written an open source proposal for Dortmund, which is currently being reviewed by the city’s IT department.
The strategy paper’s explanatory statement has also been posted on the Federal Administration Office’s website (German) and makes interesting reading, particularly as regards its linking of open source deployment to fulfilling democratic ideals.
A translation of the explanatory statement is provided below for the benefit of readers with little or no knowledge of German.
Open source software is the basis for software in which software can be exchanged without legal obstacles, meaning software can be exchanged freely. This offers the best general requirements for further software development since it can be worked on and improved not just by one supplier, but by the whole professional world.
For a local authority, breaking away from the proprietary software sector means being able to act in a way that is neutral regarding manufacturers, independent of the market, flexible and cost-effective. Moreover, this is the only possibility of making IT-supported administrative processes comprehensively reproducible and thus satisfy the citizens’ democratic ideal of transparency.
The decision to plan on open source software throughout the administration in the long term offers the opportunity to intensify local authority co-operation since open source software can be exchanged between local authorities without giving rise to additional costs.
The City of Dortmund is being shown in an exemplary manner that local authorities must start to break away from proprietary software and to promote open source software purposefully in order to be able to benefit itself from the long-term inherent benefits of open source software. An open software strategy adapted to the respective organisation is required for this to harness unrealised opportunities.
Read Nähle’s open source strategy (in German, PDF)