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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2010-08-03">
<version>1</version>
<head>
<title>German ministries flout IT open interoperability requirements</title>
</head>
<body>
<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 this week suggests that the majority of
federal government departments in Germany are ignoring requirements to
implement <a href="/freesoftware/standards/def.html">Open Standards</a>.</p>
<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 the
price for this lack of conformity through higher bills for public IT contracts,
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 authorities."</p>
<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 and
send ODF files.</p>
<p>When 87 letters were sent to the ministries challenging them to demonstrate
their conformance by replying in the open format, only two of them replied in
ODF as requested. The Chancellor's Office and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture
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 response.</p>
<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 Software.</p>
<p>The seven bodies that participated in the survey were:</p>
<ol>
<li>Bundeskanzleramt (The Chancellor's Office)</li>
<li>Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz (BMELV)</li>
<li>Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI) Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen</li>
<li>Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung</li>
<li>Bundesministerium des Innern</li>
<li>Bundespräsidialamt</li>
<li>Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit</li>
</ol>
</body>
<tags>
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="dfd">Document Freedom Day</tag>
<tag key="openstandards">Open Standards</tag>
<tag key="policy"/>
<tag key="public-administration">Public Administration</tag>
</tags>
</html>