Our Work

Public procurement

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.

But not all government institutions are taking advantage of Free Software. In consequence, public funds are being wasted, and programs that should be free are being locked away. This also makes life hard for the Free Software-based companies who employ people in Europe, and pay their taxes here.

FSFE explains the problem

Procurement is a field for specialists. Many procurement officials are still not fully aware of Free Software. Combined with inertia in public sector IT departments, this means that too many public bodies never look beyond their long-standing relations with suppliers of non-free 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 purchasing software.

Why procurement matters

Public procurement spending equals nearly 20% of the EU's GDP 1. The public sector's procurement choices have very real effects on the economy, and play a significant role in determining the sort of firms that thrive in the market. Even with current procurement practices, Free Software already delivers very significant benefits for the European economy. Daffara (2012) estimates that Europeans enjoy 114 billion EUR per year in direct cost savings thanks to Free Software2.Anecdotal evidence points in the same direction. Many public adminstrations that begin using Free Software see their IT costs drop by 50-90%.

The public sector's buying decisions also has a significant influence on the development of a healthy supplier ecosystem for Free Software products and services. With more government institutions as their customers, many such companies could thrive more quickly, and there would be more and better Free Software programs available to the public.

FSFE speaks up when things go wrong...

In 2010, the European Commission made a glaring mistake. The Commission had issued numerous policy statements in favour of Free Software and Open Standards. But when it came to buying software and services for itself, it went straight to Microsoft and its resellers. Companies offering Free Software never had a chance, even though their products offered the same functionality.

We saw that the Commission had certainly breached the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. So we took them to task, generating lots of press coverage - right up to the New York Times.

We want the European Commission to procure the software products it needs in an open, competitive fashion, giving Free Software suppliers the same opportunities as it gives to proprietary vendors and their resellers.

We want the EC to take a long-term view of its IT strategy, realise the dangers of lock-in, and figure future exit costs into the price of any solution it acquires.

This is what the Commission owes to Europe's citizens. Sticking to the letter and spirit of European procurement law would be an excellent start.

…and offers independent solutions

Fortunately, most people are more open to progress than that. 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.

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.

To speed up change at the ground level, we also work with national governments to help them draft policies that promote Free Software adoption. In January 2014, Italy introduced a rule requiring public bodies to first evaluate Free Software before buying non-free solutions. FSFE's General Counsel Carlo Piana was part of the expert committee installed by the government to design this rule, alongside participants from all sectors of the software market.

This is the sort of change that FSFE helps to create. Please support us in this effort.


  1. Open Forum Europe (2013): OFE Procurement Monitoring Report 2012 , 2nd Snapshot, p. 2
  2. Carlo Dafarra (2012): Estimating the Economic Contribution of Open Source Software to the European Economy. In: Shane Coughlan (ed.)(2012): The First OpenForum Academy Conference Proceedings, pp. 11-14

Një ligj rus e bën Software-in e Lirë Përparësi Publike

10 November 2016

Ligjvënësit kanë hartuar një projekt-ligj që i jep një shtytje të fortë Software-it të lirë në shumë nivele brenda sektorit publik të Federatës Ruse.

Një mirëpritje e kujdesshme për strategjinë e re të KE-së lidhur me Software-in e Lirë

01 April 2015

Oproep tot evaluatie: vragen over het Duitse Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

01 April 2015

Letër e Hapur institucioneve të BE-së: Ka ardhur koha për të përkrahur Standardet e Hapura

26 March 2014

Në një letër të hapur për Parlamentin Europian dhe Komisionin Europian, Free Software Foundation Europe dhe Open Forum Europe u kërkojnë institucioneve europiane të përmirësojnë mbulimin e tyre për Standardet e Hapura. Letra i drejtohet Giancarlo Vilella-s, drejtori i Drejtorisë së Përgjithshme ITEC të Parlamentit Europian dhe i Komitetit Ndërinstitucional për Informatikën (IICI).

FSFE-ja komenton rreth propozimit të Mbretërisë së Bashkuar lidhur me formatet e dokumenteve

26 February 2014

FSFE-ja ka parashtruar komentet e veta lidhur me një propozim të qeverisë së Mbretërisë së Bashkuar për të përdorur në të ardhmen vetëm formate dokumentesh të bazuar mbi Standarde të Hapura.

Italia privilegjon Software-in e Lirë në sektorin publik

14 January 2014

Qeveria italiane e ka bërë Software-in e Lirë mundësinë parazgjedhje për organizma të administratës publike. Në një qarkore, të botuar të mërkurën e kaluar, Agenzia per l'Italia Digitale ka fiksuar rregulla në bazë të të cilave krejt organizmat qeveritare të vendit, përpara se të blejnë licenca programesh pronësore, duhet të marrin në shqyrtim përdorimin e Software-it të Lirë.

Komisioni Europian u thotë organizmave publike të çlirohen nga kyçjet

25 June 2013

Në një njoftim të botuar sot, Komisioni Europian u kërkon organizmave publike të çlirohen nga bllokimi i mundësive të zgjedhjes prej tregtuesve më sistemet e tyre TI. Komisioni dëshiron që organizmat publike të marrin për bazë standardet, dhe jo markat dhe teknologjitë pronësore, kur blejnë software.

Letër e Hapur kryeministrit Erdoğan

20 June 2013

Ditë përpara se të plasnin protestat në Sheshin Taksim, presidenti Erdoğan qe në Amerikë. Në emër të një projekti ambicioz investimesh në arsim, të quajtur FATIH, ai vizitoi Silicon Valley-n si i ftuar i kompanive më të mëdha teknologjike të Amerikës, secila prej tyre me shpresë se do të arrijë një kontratë për më tepër se 10 milionë kompjuter të rinj tablet.

Një gjykatë portugeze eliminon një prokurim të paligjshëm që favorizonte Microsoft-in

02 May 2013

Më 27 prill, gjykata administrative e Almadas, Portugali, shpalli të paligjshme një kontratë prej 550 mijë eurosh mes Microsoft-it dhe bashkisë së Almadas. Kërkesat teknike të konkurrimit të shpallur nga bashkia ia bënin të pamundur cilësdo kompani tjetër veç Microsoft-it dhe partnerëve të tyre parashtrimin e një propozimi.

FSFE explains the importance of Free Software to the administration of Region Lazio, Italy.

30 July 2012

Last May 23th, the Council of Region Lazio, Italy, approved a Regional Law on "Reuse of information and public data, and connected initiatives". With further regulation, methods and technical rules for reusing software will be determined. In the meantime, we proposed them a checklist of motivations by which both Institutions and the Community would be advantages by a migration to systems based on Free Software.

City of Helsinki Wants To Keep Software Costs Secret

11 July 2012

The IT department of the city of Helsinki claimed in a report to the city board that migrating to OpenOffice would cost is over 21 million euros. On 10th of April 2012, FSFE filed a Freedom of Information request, asking the city how it had arrived at a surprisingly high cost estimates for running OpenOffice (now LibreOffice) on the city's workstations. The city of Helsinki has now denied this request and has stated that it will not release any details about the calculations.

FSFE to Advance Fair Public IT Procurements in Finland

19 June 2012

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has started an initiative to advance fair public procurements in Finland. The initiative concentrates on IT related procurement notices that require brand instead of defining functionalities required by the procurer. To date FSFE has skimmed over 300 procurement notices, and of those taken into closer analysis, 14 have been found to clearly violate the Finnish procurement law. These violating notices explicitly asked for tenders of specific brands of software manufacturers or products and thus discriminate all other brands and manufacturers, effectively stopping free competition.

Helsinki city officials highly satisfied with Free Software

13 December 2011

City officials in Helsinki, Finland, are overwhelmingly satisfied after trying out the Free Software office suite OpenOffice.org on their laptops. 75% of 600 officials have been using OpenOffice.org exclusively since February, as part of a pilot project where the city installed the program on 22,500 workstations.

Contribute to list of Free Software options for UK government

18 May 2011

We need your help to write a paper with details of recommended Free Software applications for use in the UK public sector. Please contribute your knowledge by joining us on Etherpad.

FSFE responds to EC consultation on procurement

18 April 2011

Free Software Foundation Europe has provided the European Commission with input on modernising the way in which public bodies buy software and related services.