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French PM promotes FOSS

Marianne - symbol of the French RepublicFrench Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has just distributed a circular on “Use of free software in the administration” (in French, PDF) to all government ministries, according to a report from

This circular marks a major advance for free software in the French State’s IT systems. It lists past successes and the most appropriate case studies, enabling the outlines of a true free and open source software policy to emerge. The DISIC (Interministerial ICT Systems Directorate) working group which drafted the circular places special emphasis on the financial benefits of free software for those deploying it, but also stress the importance of contributing back to free and open source software development. Indeed it sets specific objectives for the latter: 5-10% of the savings made should be re-invested in the form of contributions.

image of French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
In a covering letter for the circular, M Ayrault stresses the benefits of free software: “lower cost, flexibility of use, lever for discussion with vendors”.

Besides the Prime Minister’s remarks, the French National Council for Free Software (CNLL) adds that the free software sector in France accounts for 30,000 jobs and has an annual growth rate of some 30?%. It is therefore a competitive employment sector whose growth should be encouraged by the State by placing orders of course, but also by measures to support innovation and training, as well as by a legal and regulatory framework based around open standards and a rejection of software patents, so as not to disadvantage free and open source companies compared with the international IT giants.

The CNLL likewise notes that the State’s use of free software will allow a reduction of France’s strategic and financial dependency on foreign suppliers and promote local employment and SMEs, whilst obviating the tax avoidance indulged in by major international software vendors.

Note to our UK readers: can anyone out there see David Cameron issuing a similar circular? Your comments welcome below. 😉