[FSFE PR][EN] Input about Free Software for German OGP action plan published
press at fsfe.org
press at fsfe.org
Tue Mar 28 11:24:56 CEST 2017
= Input about Free Software for German OGP action plan published =
[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/2017/news-20170328-01.en.html ]
Today the civil society "working group OGP (Open Government Partnership)
Germany" (Arbeitskreis OGP Deutschland) published its input for a German
OGP action plan . 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
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  ).
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 .)
=== 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
- *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  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: ===
-  Free/Open Source licensing model: See also the list of the Free
Software Foundation  and of the Open Source Initiative 
- OGP Toolbox 
- EU Joinup solutions 
- USA Portal Code.Gov 
- UK: Proof of concept 
- Fixmystreet UK  - Fixmystreet OGS 
- EUPL 
- Introduction into "Software Freedom" by FSFE 
=== 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"  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  and in the
"OGP Toolbox"  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  (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  )
- 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.
== 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
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