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<html newsdate="2010-08-02">
<title>German ministries flout IT open interoperability requirements</title>
<h1>German ministries flout IT open interoperability requirements</h1>
<h2>Survey finds only 2 of 87 departments are conforming to federal open
document regulations</h2>
<p>Research published by FSFE this week suggests that the majority
of federal government departments in Germany are ignoring requirements to
implement <a href="/freesoftware/standards/def.html">Open
<p>A survey was conducted by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) to
investigate the state of government adoption of ODF, and to promote wider
uptake of Open Standards. "Although federal policy has wisely embraced Open
Standards for interoperability, accessibility and security, it is clear that
most government bodies are still using inefficient proprietary formats" said
Karsten Gerloff, President of FSFE. "Ultimately citizens will end up paying
price for this lack of conformity through higher bills for public IT
and slower services due to interoperability problems" he added. "They
will also pay a price in freedom, as they are forced to use
proprietary software and standards to communicate with government
<p>Since the beginning of 2010, the German Information Technology Council
(Rat der IT-Beauftragten) has required state departments to support Open
Document Format (ODF) in order to communicate with the growing number of
individuals and organisations that use it. The policy, which is based upon the
findings of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee - a panel of experts
from the federal
administration, requires that departments have the capacity to read, write
send ODF files.</p>
<p>When 87 letters were sent to the ministries challenging them to
their conformance by replying in the open format, only two of them replied
ODF as requested. The Chancellor's Office and the Ministry of Food,
and Consumer Protection (BMELV) were the sole respondents to use the correct
format. Five other federal bodies responded: all of whom underlined the
importance of Open Standards to them. Despite claiming that they were
ODF capable however, instead used other non-ODF formats for their
<p>Usage of ODF continues to grow in public institutions throughout the
world, and is already officially approved in ten separate national standards
organisations, in addition to being the mandatory standard for
communication between NATO's 26 member states. "The Chancellor's Office and
BMELV have set an example for Open Standards in public administration"
concluded Matthias Kirschner, German Coordinator of FSFE, "but overall there
is clearly a long way to go before practice meets policy for ODF in the German
public sector".</p>
<p>FSFE shall continue to monitor ODF uptake in order to ensure the
protection of German citizens' right to communicate using Free
<p>The seven bodies that participated in the survey were:</p>
<li>Bundeskanzleramt (The Chancellor's Office)</li>
<li>Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und
Verbraucherschutz (BMELV)</li>
<li>Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI) Bundesforschungsinstitut für
<li>Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung</li>
<li>Bundesministerium des Innern</li>
<li>Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die
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