What is OSOR and what does it do?

The Open Source Observatory (OSOR), part of the European Commission – ISA, provides a community to share information and news regarding 1) ongoing initiatives in the public sector on the use of open source software, 2) events on OSS in the European Union and beyond and 3) provide legal support regarding licenses and their use.

What was discussed?

The Guidelines on Public Procurement of Open Source Software, first published in 2010, are being updated to provide latest information on the political and legal framework of public procurement processes.

The following EU-level policies were cited which have been updated to cater the latest developments in the OSS ecosystem:
• Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement
• Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on European standardization
• European Commission Open Source Software Strategy 2020-2023 – Think Open
• The Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment – Tallinn Declaration (2017)

Johan Linåker discussed Acquisition and Development of Open Source Software with example of Sweden. In the preparatory phase of an acquisition government agencies are encouraged to use Open Source software. The alternatives should be found and scrutinized whether through RFIs or networks etc. He also reminded the audience about the expected value gain of the said practice. If we go for development of a new Software, what are the costs, risks, and other complexities associated with it.

Rasmus Frey talked about the Danish OS community which has ready to use Open Source products for local municipalities.

For me the the highlight was the "Legal Perspective" talk given by Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz. He is concerned with over reliance on single ICT services providers. A healthy ecosystem requires competition which will be created only if focus is on: Interoperability, open standards, transparency, non-discrimination and having “technology-neutral” specifications. He goes on to say that OSS matches the above criteria.

He then told participants about the two products of European Commission i.e. Licensing Assistant and JLA - Compatibility Checker which can help in determining “how far the planned outbound licensing terms are compliant with the inbound licensing terms of the used source code”.

In concluding the talk, he reminds the audience that it may be too late to replace all proprietary software but instilling equal treatment, transparency, open competition, use of open standards, personal data protection, interoperability tools, EU common licensing/sharing tools in the public sector procurement process can massively improve the situation.