[FSFE PR][EN] German ministries flout IT open interoperability requirements

FSFE press at fsfeurope.org
Mon Aug 2 12:01:47 CEST 2010

= German ministries flout IT open interoperability requirements =

== Survey finds only 2 of 87 departments are conforming to federal open
document regulations ==

Research published this week suggests that the majority of federal government
departments in Germany are ignoring requirements to implement Open Standards

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 
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 

Since the beginning of 2010, the German Information Technology Council (Rat 
IT-Beauftragten) has required state departments to support Open Document 
(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.

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.

Usage of ODF continues to grow in public institutions throughout the world, 
is already officially approved in ten separate national standards organisations,
in  addition to being the mandatory standard for communication between NATO's 
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".

FSFE shall continue to monitor ODF uptake in order to ensure the
protection of German citizens' right to communicate using Free

The seven bodies that participated in the survey were:

1. Bundeskanzleramt (The Chancellor's Office)
2. Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz 
3. Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI) Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen
4. Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung
5. Bundesministerium des Innern
6. Bundespräsidialamt
7. Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit


For more information about this topic, or to schedule a meeting with the FSFE
please email pr at fsfeurope.org, or call Sam Tuke on (+49) 030 2759 5290.

== About Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit non-governmental
  organisation active in many European countries and involved in many global
  activities. Access to software determines participation in a digital 
  To secure equal participation in the information age, as well as freedom of
  competition, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is
  dedicated to the furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use,
  study, modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these 
  securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by
  supporting development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE.


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