Potential for major public savings in open source software

October 21, 2003

Report shows that there are potential for major savings for the public administration in the use of open source software. The report has now been translated for download.

Switching from proprietary software to open source software in Danish public administration has an economic scope of several billion DKK every year. This is the conclusion in a report prepared by a working group under The Danish Board of Technology. The working group has compiled a detailed analysis of the use of open source software in public administration in Denmark – especially the economic perspectives. The analysis shows that open source software is a viable alternative to the proprietary software. One reason the open source software is competitive is because it allows users to change, to correct and to distribute the software and therefore to a greater extent leaves the user in control of changes.

The analysis shows good possibilities for using the open source software as desktop software, e.g. for word processing and there is a potential for lowering the cost of using desk-top software.

Open source infrastructure software (e.g. web- and mail servers and operating systems) already has a strong market position, caused by superior performance and lower cost. In relation to custom developed software, where the public administration is expected to perform massive investment for the years to come, the report discusses alternatives to the traditional ways of development.

Based on the analysis and the conclusions of the report, the working group lists a set of recommendations for a policy of creating more competition on the software market which could lead to a possible switch to open source software. The most important recommendation is on creating open standards for document storage and exchange. The group’s consideration is that open source is “a real alternative for e-government”, and that “it will be necessary for executives in the public sector to consider strategies for future it-investments, which includes open source software”.

The report presented October 2002 initiated many articles and a vigorous debate in the Danish media concerning proprietary software versus open source software. The report is now available in English.

The European Parliament has contributed to the translation of the report.

For more information contact members of the working group:

Mogens Kühn Pedersen, Professor, Department of Informatics, Copenhagen
Business School, mk.om@cbs.dk, +45 38 15 22 54