Moving to open source would save government one to four billion

The Dutch could save one to four billion Euro per year, if their public administrations would move to open source software, according to calculations done by the ministry of the Interior. The ministry deemed the report ‘unsound’ and wanted to keep it under wraps, but members of the Parliament demanded access to the report.

“I knew that enhancing competition would help us save lots of money, but this amount makes me dizzy”, the Dutch IT news site Webwereld quoted Green MP El Fassed. He wants the government to speed up the move to open source.

The report titled ‘Sorry, we’re open’, was made available to the Parliament after pressure from Socialist Party MP Rik Janssen, which heard that the report had been submitted to the Court of Audit, which is working on a separate study on the potential savings possible with open source software. This study is expected to be made public next Tuesday, 15 March.

The calculations from the ministry of the Interior were done by one of the civil administrators involved in the project to renew 11.000 desktops in most of the Dutch ministries. This new desktop is based on proprietary software for the operating system, for office applications and for email and group-ware

According to the report it is here that vendor lock-in and the use of proprietary standards are most disruptive. Other locked-in IT areas are database applications and desktop operating systems. The report says that IT vendors exploit the lock-in created by proprietary standards, keeping their prices at the level where the exit costs are too high.

Switching to open source makes cost savings possible in several areas, calculates the report. Savings include proprietary licences, costs for procurement, for licence management and on IT maintenance.

According to a letter from the ministry to the Parliament, the report was never used in decision making and never progressed beyond the status of a preparatory document for internal policies. While responding to the Parliament, the report was accidentally made public. The ministry later removed the links after it leaked onto the Internet.

This article was first published on Open Source Observatory & Repository Europe.

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