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Portugal opening up public sector IT contracts

PublicService Europe - Paul Meller OFE - For too long, large contractors have dominated the public sector IT landscape – things could be about change

As Portugal puts the final touches to a set of rules designed to help its public sector break free from IT vendor lock-in, Openforum Europe congratulates the Portuguese government for shaping one of the most enlightened laws of its kind in Europe. An Open Standards Law adopted with cross-party support, in April, requires an accompanying regulation and a list of approved rules to take practical effect. These texts are currently the subject of a public consultation.

Once finalised, this legal framework will help ensure that ministries and public agencies in Portugal always select IT systems built on open standards. Like many countries in Europe, Portugal's public sector has remained largely locked into expensive, proprietary computer systems until now. The only way to ensure that the country's public sector gets the best value for money from its computer systems is by insisting that suppliers adhere to open standards. That way - they will be able to choose from the widest selection of suppliers, including ones that build systems around open source and free software infrastructures.