Strategic freedom: Free Software in the public sector
Free Software is a perfect fit for the public sector. It is a public resource that government organisations can use, study, improve, and share with each other. For citizens, this means transparency, cost efficiency, and the freedom to interact with their government in the way that suits them best.
Yet public bodies often put Free Software at a disadvantage. This results in taxpayers' money being spent in ways that are often wasteful, and frequently illegal. FSFE works with public sector organisations at all levels - from the European Commission to local administrations - to systematically improve procurement practices across the continent.
Why procurement matters
Public procurement spending equals nearly 20 per cent of the EU's GDP. Governments' buying decisions can determine the success or failure of whole industries. Energy-saving technology and recycled paper only came into widespread use because governments started buying them. The same mechanism applies to Free Software. Many public adminstrations that begin using Free Software see their IT costs drop by 50-90 per cent, freeing up public funds for other uses.
FSFE speaks up when things go wrong...
Many public bodies remain locked into their traditional suppliers of proprietary software. At FSFE, we work with journalists and researchers to highlight the work of public sector organisations that are doing it right. When a public body makes mistakes, we help them to correct them. And when necessary, we put pressure on organisations that insist on harmful ways of buying software.
...and offers independent solutions
At FSFE, we are in constant dialogues with procurement specialists across Europe. We observe new approaches, identify what works, and provide analysis to decision makers. We help specialists in different countries learn from each other.
We help procurement officials understand the full impact of their actions, and we help them to do better - not only for their organisations, but also for the citizens whom they serve. FSFE's work has helped to create policies and practices that promote Free Software and Open Standards in several European member states, such as Italy, the UK and Germany.
Our demandsSome of our key demands are:
- All software that is paid for by public funds must be available to the public under free licenses.
- When acquiring software and contracting services, public bodies should make Free Software their default choice.
- Public bodies should archive all their documents in formats based on Open Standards, such as the Open Document Format (ODF).
- All public bodies should acquire their software through competitive, public calls for tenders based on functional specifications, not brand names.
- All contracts with suppliers should be made public.
By helping governments to buy and use more Free Software, FSFE is driving real change. Please support us in this effort.Free Software Foundation Europe
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