Input about Free Software for German OGP action plan published

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Tue Mar 28 11:24:55 CEST 2017

 = Input about Free Software for German OGP action plan published =

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Today the civil society "working group OGP (Open Government Partnership)
Germany" (Arbeitskreis OGP Deutschland) published its input for a German
OGP action plan [1]. The goal of the Open Government actions is to
increase transparency, citizen friendlyness, reporting, and
effectiveness of governments and administrations. The input, which was
already handed over to the German Government on 20 March, consists of 30
Open Government topics, including a section about Free Software.

In December 2016 Germany joined the Open Government Partnership. Until
June 2017 a German action plan is to be developed and decided by the
German government.

To achieve this, on 17 February 2017 the German government invited
representatives from the civil society to a workshop to develop input
for a German action plan for the upcoming two years. After the workshop
members of civil society groups further developed the suggestions
published today. In the weeks to come the German federal ministries will
examine the different suggestions, debate internally, and draft a
national action plan with concrete goals. There will also be another
workshop to discuss the goals between administrations and the civil
society (see the German timetable for the action plan by the German
Government [2] ).

The OGP action plan will not just address the federal government but
should also affect administrations in the German federal states and

 == Input from the civil society about Free/Open Source Software ==

The Free Software Foundation Europe worked together with other German
Free Software organisations and the "working group OGP Germany" to
summarise the topic of Free Software in the Open Government context and
develop concrete action items for the government.

By publishing the input we hope to enable civil society actors around
the world to learn about the OGP discussion in Germany, adapt
suggestions to other countries' contexts, and to enable people to give
further input to the German debate.

Below a rough translation of our input originally written in German.
(The full submission is available in German at the website for the
workgroup OGP [3].)

 === Introduction into the topic ===

    Open Government offers the possibility to make the activities of the
    state more persistent and plausible for its citizens. Open software
    achieves this with its open/free licensing which is proved as an
    international standard. The "Open Government Toolbox" sums up 1928
    IT projects from 523 organisations to help in the transition to Open
    Government. The spectrum of this stunning collection shows the
    potential of Open Government software. From data visualisation to
    participation tools and on up to tools for local urban initiatives,
    numerous projects for administration and civil society are already
    freely accessible.

- *Recycling*: Open Software can be used for various purposes and can be
  re-used. Once it is developed in the scope of a governmental tender,
  the software code can then be used by other administrations for
  similar problems. A good example is "Fix My Street": originally
  developed as a reporting tool for damage on roads in the United
  Kingdom, it is now also being used in Switzerland, Ireland, Malaysia,
  Norway, Sweden, Uganda and Uruguay. As additionally developed
  extensions to the software and user experiences are shared between
  nations, all users benefit from the increasing use.

- *Independence*: The use of Open Software offers more opportunities for
  procurement and selection of partners. A strategic "lock-in", a
  dependency on certain vendors, is avoided as the code can be
  maintained by other market competitors as well.

- *Neutrality of platforms*: With open standards the public authorities
  can achieve more platform neutrality. Thereby they are no longer
  dependent on certain vendors and can choose a new one at any time.

- *Transparency*: While conventional government software is a blackbox
  and is a proprietary secret, the source code of Open Government
  software is basically always available.

- *Participation*: The Open Source code combined with a free license
  allows synergies of government agencies (with civil society),
  enterprises and citizens. Software provided by the state can be
  maintained and used by external users - and vice versa. Open
  Government software projects initiated by the state give an impetus
  for collaborative projects where various perspectives from
  administration, civil society, enterprises and citizens come together.

    For the implementation of the Open Government road map, new software
    will be developed. Open Government software should be accessible
    under a suitable Free/Open license [1] to enable re-use and sharing
    of solutions between authorities, companies and citizens.

 === Our vision until 2030: ===

    Federal, regional and local administrations share their solutions
    with other administrations, companies and civil society. For new
    solutions, the participants can refer to a collection of pre-
    existing solutions, re-use and improve these and share them with
    everyone. All solutions guarantee use independent of the used
    platform. Neither citizens, companies nor administrations should be
    technically discriminated against. These German software solutions
    enjoy an excellent reputation in administrations, civil society, and
    commercial enterprises around the world. People enjoy using them and
    they are further developed by other programming groups. Therefore
    this results in investment protection and a higher sustainability
    for the public sector, which will be developed further by third-
    parties, even if individual German administrative authorities opt
    for other solutions.

 === Further information sources and links: ===

- [1] Free/Open Source licensing model: See also the list of the Free
  Software Foundation [4] and of the Open Source Initiative [5]

- OGP Toolbox [6]

- EU Joinup solutions [7]

- USA Portal Code.Gov [8]

- UK: Proof of concept [9]

- Fixmystreet UK [10] - Fixmystreet OGS [11]

- EUPL [12]

- Introduction into "Software Freedom" by FSFE [13]

 === Suggestions for commitments by the workshop for a NAP two-pager ===

- Level 1: Suggestions for organising the process   Establishment of an
  expert group, containing members of federal, state and municipal
  administrations for re-use and sharing of open software for the state
  and the administration (Re-use and Share OSS). Therefore, at least
  twice a year, an internal dialogue can take place. There, the group
  can tap into the topic of Open Source software and understand it in
  terms of overlapping administrative needs. Due to this overlap,
  employees from all levels of the public administrations should be
  utilised as contributors and architects, and encouraged to integrate,
  share, and promote more re-use of the administration's software.

- Establishment of a workgroup with members from administration, civil
  society and companies for re-use and sharing of Free Software for the
  state and the administration. The workshop should take place at least
  twice a year to enable an exchange to listen to each other and receive
  feedback by the civil society for further conceptional development.
  There should be a strong link between the workgroup and the referring
  expert group (see paragraph above) in the administration. Thereby a
  transfer of knowledge into the public administration, and indirectly
  into politics, is ensured.

- Commissioning of a study running until December 2018 to do basic
  research about the cooperation in public administrations in usage of
  free/open software. It should consider both users and
  business/development associations so that national and international
  knowledge and practical experience from study and usage are taken into
  account. The full potential, with the help of workshops (Collaborative
  Design), should be outlined. With this approach, all relevant
  perspectives and proposals for implementation are available for the
  second National Action Plan.

- Conducting two "Plug Fest" [14] events in Germany until 2018 as Open
  Collaborative Workshops, where special departments of local
  authorities can be brought into technical dialogue with providers of
  document editing solutions. With those multi stakeholder events many
  countries in Europe have made positive experiences for increasing

- Commission of a scientific study about open standards and open
  interfaces in public administrations (including open document formats)
  by June of 2018. With this the national and international knowledge
  and practical experience (Germany: SAGA 5.1.0, EU, Austria,
  Switzerland, France, Italy, Netherlands) will be taken into account.
  The full potential with the help of workshops (Collaborative Design)
  should be outlined so all relevant possibilities and proposals should
  be available for the second National Action Plan.

- Commission of an evaluation study about the accessibility and platform
  neutrality of public web interfaces by the federal authorities until
  January 2018. Through this we can achieve transparency about how
  certain user groups are technically discriminated against by the
  websites of the authorities and how these sites are accessible
  regardless of used devices. Based on this evaluation, best practices
  will be introduced simultaneously. Also, basic principles acting as
  suggestions for creating accessible and vendor-neutral websites for
  authorities as well as for public institutions will be presented.

- Level 2: Precise legislative steps and regulation requirements
  Establishment of the EU ISA2 law regarding the platform neutrality in
  the acquisition of web service until 2019, so that citizens can use
  public sector services regardless of the technology used by the
  citizens (Operating systems: Mac OS, Linux, Windows, Android /
  Browser: Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer.../ Hardware: Tablet,
  Desktop-PC, Smartphone, Thin Internet Client).

- Proposal for a law to set up a national software archive by 2019 which
  clarifies where German authorities and suppliers should deposit and
  store (long-term-archive) the source code, documentation, interface
  specifications and database schemes of their software solutions. This
  enables security checks and the preservation of our digital cultural

- Level 3: Minimal measures (Mandatory programme)   Software, which is
  being commissioned or developed in the course of realising the OGP
  action plan, should re-use free/open software components and should be
  made accessible on the EU software platform joinup [15] and in the
  "OGP Toolbox" [16] for other governments, companies and the civil

- Capacity-generating measures for the participation of Germany in the
  further development of the Free/Open Source Software Contributor
  Policy Template in the OGP [17] (Bulgaria, France, the United Kingdom
  and the United States of America have already pledged to do this).

- Until mid 2018 evaluation of which software, of those created during
  the implementation of the IT-planning council's action plan for 2017,
  can be made available in the OGP Toolbox under a free/open license by
  2019. (See Action Plan [18] )

- Federal government, federal states, and municipalities should
  communicate information about the cooperation between the authorities
  and other participants regarding software solutions to the EU portal
  Joinup for publication. This will make this kind of cooperation more
  popular and persuades other entities to participate.

  8: http:///

  == About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  Free Software Foundation Europe is a charity that empowers users to
  control technology. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our
  lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than
  restricts us. Free Software gives everybody the rights to use,
  understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other
  fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy.

  The FSFE helps individuals and organisations to understand how Free
  Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination.
  It enhances users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software
  adoption, encourage people to use and develop Free Software, and
  provide resources to enable everyone to further promote Free Software
  in Europe.

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