Involving government in 'open source' is hard but profitable

Gijs Hillenius | EU Joinup | September 30, 2013

Getting public administrations involved in communities of developers of free and open source solutions "is not easy", says Cenatic, the Spanish government's resource centre on open source. Hindrances can be technological, economical or caused by legislation. Other barriers are political, because of bureaucracy or out of fear of loss of reputation. Still, concludes Cenatic, it is the best way to develop ICT solutions for public administrations, benefiting all stakeholders.

On 23 September, Cenatic expert Manuel Domínguez-Dorado published his experiences in getting public administration involved in developing open source solutions. He describes "the most common problems", building a kind of check-list for others to prepare strategies for, as there are no common solutions.

Technical issues, for example, are time-consuming, but can in most cases be overcome. Large platforms developed by companies for the government accumulate bugs, documentation problems, code duplication, lack optimisation, include outdated software libraries. That is what happens, when development is planned per budget-year, making it difficult to plan the solution's evolution in the medium-term.

However, many public administration believe that once they've released their software as open source, they need no longer to budget for its future development. This mistake complicates setting up a community...