30min: Public Money, Public Code – Improving the use of Free Software in 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.
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. 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. Anecdotal evidence points in the same direction. Many public adminstrations that begin using Free Software see their IT costs drop by 50-90%. Changing the public sector's buying decisions would have 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.
With a campaign focused on gathering information on the status quo of expenses, we want to raise awareness for the tremendous waste of tax money in this field. By providing solid information on the costs of the current procurement policies, we want help decision makers in the public sector to do better -- not only for their organisations, but also for the citizens whom they serve.
Start time: 15:30
Track: Free Software policies and politics
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