Italy Open Source Revolution Begins

Original author: Alessandro Ranellucci
  • Transfer

State institutions of the country should now make public the entire code developed for them

The original English post was published by a representative of the Italian Government Digital Transformation Team - approx. perev.

“Freedom leading the people”

The digitalization of Italy has reached the Rubicon. The law that has entered into force states that government agencies should try to use open source software in the first place , as well as  publish all software developed for them as Open Source . In practice, the implementation of the law is enshrined in a set of binding principles .

Following these guidelines state. institutions can (and should) publish all software purchased earlier and acquired from that moment on to Developers Italia .

We first mentioned these rules in 2018 in the article “Open Software and the State: Online Recommendations on the Acquisition and Reuse of Software” , in which the start of public consultations was announced. During this period, many valuable comments were sent to us, with which the guidelines were supplemented. This clearly showed that the time has come to finally adopt the Open Source paradigm.

A few months later, after the approval of the Joint Conference and the European Commission, the adoption process was completed, and the guidelines published in the Official Journal (such publication is a condition for the law to enter into force - approx. Transl.) .

What has changed?

With guidelines in action:

  1. Government agencies will need to do a benchmarking test before acquiring new software that will benefit  from open source solutions (including those already used by other institutions).
  2. The development of new software and the acquisition of proprietary licenses must have extremely good reasons .
  3. All software developed for the state should be available as Open Source in a public repository and included in the Developers Italia catalog  .

Reusing software will eliminate duplication of costs (think of all local governments with the same needs) in favor of fewer, safer and more mature solutions . Therefore, we expect these changes to have a beneficial effect on the market.

Competition between contractors is still possible, but will not be based on tying the authorities to their technologies and lobbying their proprietary licenses (as is usually the case), but on the ability to improve existing open source software . This change will make state. the order is more accessible for new developers, including small ones, and will reduce the information asymmetry between them and old contractors.

From law to practice

One law is not enough without tools for its effective implementation. This is why we have prepared:

  • Technical applications for guidelines . They describe the simple steps that a software vendor needs to take to fulfill customer obligations. The government agency should include the application in the tender documentation, and the contractor will take care of the rest.
  • The software catalog on the Developers Italia website will contain detailed descriptions, screenshots and direct links to the source code, which will make evaluating the available solutions more complete and faster.

Screenshot of the software catalog  on Developers Italia

We developed the software catalog as a real search engine, which uses its own crawler to automatically search for all publicly available programs on sites such as GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, etc. Simply add a metadata file called  publiccode.yml to the repository that contains information about the functionality, technical requirements, the identity of the owner, the person responsible for the support (and the expiration date of the support agreement), area of ​​use, regulatory requirements, etc.

To declare the selected source code hosting, each administration will carry out a simple one-time procedure , making all published software and its updates available to the crawler. Even a search for software forks and applications with similar functionality has been implemented.

Placing publicly available programs in the catalog will allow us to monitor and better understand the technological needs of the authorities , paving the way for new state optimizations. order.

And that's not all: the Developers Italia catalog will also be able to post links to third-party open source software that can be used in the public interest.

Companies, developers, maintainers : if you think your application is similar, just add the publiccode.yml file to the repository to place the software in the directory.

Today the second stage of our work begins: the Digital Transformation team   and  the Digital Italy (Agid) agency will begin to assist government agencies in releasing their software in accordance with the guidelines.

Government agencies : Implementing the law and adding software to Developers Italia requires just a few simple steps . This is the first step to becoming a digital administration that works in the public interest.

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