The increased use of Free Software is a central component for more digital sovereignty. Together with a strong alliance of administrations, politics, business and civil society, we call for the development of a code repository with Free Software for the public sector.
The increased use of Free Software by public institutions is a central building block for more digital sovereignty. Free Software, also known as Open Source Software, can be reviewed by everyone and can thus be independently checked for security aspects. Applications can be operated by the user and adapted to their needs. In this way, a high degree of independence from single vendors can be achieved. In addition, administrations have the opportunity to cooperate with each other more easily across organisational boundaries.
Together with the Open Source Business Alliance, the federal working group of municipal IT service providers Vitako and other experts, FSFE has developed a first concept for a code repository for the public sector and has found numerous supporters from administrations, politics, economy and civil society. Under the slogan "A place for public code", the interest group now wants to pave the way for a portal through which the public administration in Germany can exchange and jointly develop Free Software, also known as Open Source Software, in an adequate and legally compliant manner.
As a first result, a working paper was produced that puts the idea of a code repository into context and describes the challenges. It also clarifies the potential of Free Software for use in public institutions and how such a repository can contribute to the further development of the digitalisation of administrations.
"The use of Free Software imposes itself on public institutions: Free Software gives everyone the right to use, understand, share, and improve programs for any purpose. Public institutions are financed by taxes. They must ensure that they spend the money as efficiently as possible. By using Free Software, public bodies can collaborate in developing code and use existing solutions without having to reinvent the wheel over and over again. If it is public money, the code should be public too! In addition, Free Software helps to minimise dependencies on individual providers and thus creates the basis for digital sovereignty. FSFE has therefore developed the "Public Money? Public Code!" campaign to show administrations the advantages of using Free Software. However, a common place to exchange this software within public institutions is still missing in Germany." explains Alexander Sander, EU Policy Manager of FSFE.
Accordingly, "A Place for Public Code" pursues the following approach: Free Software for the administration must be findable in a structured way and it must be possible to develop and document collaboratively while being legally compliant. In addition, it is important that the environment promotes the exchange between the stakeholders, such as programmers, users and administrators, and supports the creation of networks so that communities can be created around individual projects.
In order to fulfil these requirements, a catalogue of Free Software solutions, a federated user administration, a code and an information platform are needed. Free Software solutions already exist for this purpose, which can be rolled out in a first step. The next step is now to find a supporting organisation and ensure stable financing to meet the needs of the stakeholders who will use this platform in the future.
The initiative "A Place for Public Code" invites administrations, politics and the Free Software community to participate in the discussion and to further develop the project, which can significantly accelerate the digitisation of administration, in line with the Free Software idea.
The background paper on this initiative can be found here (.pdf).
The "Public Money? Public Code!" initiative aims to establish Free Software as a standard for publicly funded software. Public administrations that follow this principle can benefit from numerous advantages: Cooperation with other government bodies, independence from individual vendors, potential tax savings, promotion of innovation and a more solid basis for IT security.
The "Public Money? Public Code!" initiative of the Free Software Foundation Europe is supported by over 180 organisations and administrations, including the City of Barcelona. To find out more, please visit: publiccode.eu/