Open Source Initiative LogoChoosing Open Source gets you more – a whole lot more. That is especially true for the state, which gains flexibility, independence, added security, and, above all, better synergies within and between different state organizations by actively giving preference to and promoting the use of Open Source software. This avoids double expenditure and counters the risk of incompatibilities; Open Source effectively renders the state more efficient.

In addition, the publishing of software financed with state funds as Open Source opens up new purchases for innovation and growth, and thus makes a direct contribution to an innovative, formative IT economy.

American Authorities Plan to Publish Codes

The White House recently issued the draft of a Federal Source Code Policy (PDF) outlining exactly this measure and which will presumably come into force for all US federal authorities in the near future. This policy will oblige the American state to publish its proprietary code as Open Source and call for it to do the same for all the code it has commissioned from third parties.

Incomplete Policies in Germany

Similar approaches are appearing across Europe, with only Germany still completely lacking the necessary policies, and in fact we can consider ourselves grateful here if Open Source is even accorded equivalent opportunities in tender proposals. In this respect, it is not merely the state, but society as a whole which loses out, as it proves impossible once again to establish trustworthy IT infrastructures and realize innovations here.

For this reason, our politicians and administrative institutions need to stop listening to company lobbyists, who have long since realized at home that Open Source is clearly the model of the future, but still want to continue to sell their old models in this country for another couple of years. In this regard, we finally need to see an active Open Source strategy from the German state.

While it is true, that Open Source will manage to win over our authorities one day even without such a strategy, it will be the programs developed in the US and other countries with active Open Source strategies which finally manage to establish themselves in the German authorities. As such, it seems unlikely that the focus of the value creation and innovation of these softwares will then lie in Germany, doesn’t it?

What do you think?

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Peter H. Ganten is the founder and CEO of Univention.

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