The council of the Swiss capital of Bern on 12 November ordered the IT department to end its dependence on proprietary software. The council halved the city’s request for a six-year licence contract, and insisted on an exit plan. A majority of councillors wants the city to replace proprietary software by open source solutions, such as Linux and LibreOffice.
The exit plan should be based on pilot projects that consider alternatives, the city council decided. With 53 of the total 67 votes, the council changed the city’s desktop software plans. The councillors want applications to become independent from PC operating system or office productivity tools. And in late 2018, when desktop operating and office licences expire, Bern has to publish an open call for tender, using vendor-neutral specifications.
“Basically, from now on, the IT department may only procure and implement solutions that are platform-independent”, the councillors agreed on Thursday.
The city’s request for a six year extension of the current proprietary licences was rejected. Instead, the council agreed on CHF 2.4 million (about EUR 2,2 million), allowing the software to be used until late 2018.
In a statement on 13 November, the Swiss Open Open Systems User Group /ch/open welcomed the change in IT strategy of the capital. The group offered to help the city with its exit plan, pointing to documentation such as a checklist to help public administrations to procure open source software solutions.
Matthias Stürmer, member of the Bern city council and member of the commission responsible to monitor the IT department, called change of plans a major success. “A vast majority of the city council voted to stop the dependence on Microsoft products”, he said.
According to Stürmer, the city’s executives and the head of the IT department, agree with the councillors that an open source desktop client is a realistic option. “There will be a thorough assessment of open source alternatives.”, he said.