Historical archive

Open source software - A key element in Norwegian ICT-strategy

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Government Administration and Reform

Opening speech at the eZ Awards 2007

Open source software is a key element in our ICT-strategy in Norway. It can facilitate the re-use of solutions across, and between, public bodies. This is especially important in the municipal sector, since all municipalities should offer the same type of services to their citizens, says Minister of Government Administration and Reform Heidi Grande Røys.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a pleasure to be here in Grenland and to take part in this important event. I am very glad that you are holding this conference. It is on a very important subject.

Open source software is a key element in our ICT-strategy in Norway.  It can facilitate the re-use of solutions across, and between, public bodies. This is especially important in the municipal sector, since all municipalities should offer the same type of services to their citizens.

Increased use of open source software in the public sector can also provide the basis for increased competence building in society. A culture of sharing software developed “in-house” will benefit organisations, businesses, students and ICT specialists.

Moreover, the emergence of solutions based on open source software can contribute to increasing competition within niche areas in the software market.

We are therefore committed to promoting open source software and more open standards in the public sector.
To achieve these goals,  our ICT strategy includes the following three measures.

First of all we plan to establish a national centre of expertise for open source software. It will provide public bodies with better conditions for an active relationship with open source software. The centre of expertise will be established to serve as a key resource for public bodies in this area.

Secondly we will consider developing a policy of preference in favour of open source software.  Public bodies will then have to choose open source software especially when such solutions are equally cost-effective and of sufficient quality compared with vendor-owned software. We will also assess the possibility of establishing a general principle that software developed under contract to the public sector must be made available as open source software.

Last but not least we will evaluate how to promote knowledge and training in open source software in further education. And we will collaborate on improved educational courses on this subject at college and university level.

Another key aspect of our ICT-strategy, which is closely related to open source software, is the use of open standards. Internal electronic interaction assumes that IT solutions can “talk together – speak the same language”. We therefore need common standards. Common standards, which ensure that interfaces between systems, work as intended. To achieve this we are preparing a reference catalogue of administration standards.

This reference catalogue will provide public bodies, suppliers and other stakeholders with an overview of recommended and mandatory administration standards relevant to ICT solutions in the public sector.

Before we decide whether or not to make these standards compulsory for the public sector, I have chosen to send the recommendation on a public hearing. After the consultation process, we will come to a decision.

To meet the goals we have set in the ICT-strategy, we need to strengthen our role as the ICT-coordinator for the public sector. This is a very important role. I therefore announced a couple of weeks ago, that we will establish a new agency. It will focus on reforming the public sector, with special reference to information technology.

Knowledge about open source software is spreading, and the use of open source software within the public sector is growing fast. The more we use open source software, the more valuable experience we get. And this enables us to understand how to make use of open source software in the most efficient manner. It also teaches us which applications are most suited for open source. I’m also pleased to see so many new small businesses popping up that deliver open source software and supporting services. They challenge the existing market players, and many of them are very successful.

I was here in Grenland also last summer, and I must say I am amazed at how much you have been able to achieve since Norske Skog closed down their business at Union. Few people would have predicted the massive and very positive transformation that has been achieved . Today Grenland is a booming area

Who has made this happen? Many people. Of course, it is difficult to single out any one person. But I would like to applaud the local and county authorities, Innovation Norway, Norske Skog and Vekst i Grenland. And also all the business people who were willing to take the risk and establish new businesses. And above all, those of you who lost your jobs, but did not give up hope. Instead you took part in creating something new and exciting. A new, modern Grenland!

A couple of years ago 6% of IT-solutions were open source, and the Gartner group predicted that by 2009 19% would become open source. Some people had a good laugh about that. However, now we have already passed 20 %.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are exciting times…The times they are most certainly a changing. And open source software is very much a part of these developments.

Thank you, and have a good evening!

Read more about eZ Awards 2007