Katowice Municipality in Poland: saving public money with OpenOffice.org
Posted by Dragoslava Greve on November 27, 2008
From OpenSource Observatory of the IDABC:
Katowice, a city in southern Poland, is one of the most rapidly developing Polish metropolis with an estimated population of around 320,000 people in the core urban area alone.
Having to upgrade both hard- and software of large numbers of computers are a significant budget item of any large administration. Licenses for proprietary software contribute significantly to IT costs, especially since software licensed for old computers often cannot be transferred to new ones.
Therefore, Katowice Municipality decided in 2005 to start implementing and using OpenOffice.org on almost all the computers in the city administration. Since then, Katowice’s IT department installs OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Office on all newly bought computers. The financial analysis, in this respect, has shown many drawbacks of buying and upgrading proprietary software in the municipality. Firstly, as it has already been mentioned, computers have to be replaced frequently due to their heavy utilization by the civil servants. This means that for every new computer, a new software license has to be bought. Secondly, the need for updating old software on already existing hardware creates a budgetary burden, especially when updating all of the 850 computers in the Municipality. Finally, the need for creating training sessions for civil servants on the updated versions was another point favoring the use of the free OpenOffice.org.
The case of Katowice Municipality is a good example how public administration can save a substantial amount of money by deploying free software. It also shows that OpenOffice.org can easily substitute proprietary software without much special preparation on the technical level. Given the growing availability of high-quality open source programs for desktops and servers, Katowice clearly stands poised to lead the way towards much greater usage of this type of software in the Polish public sector.
As a result – successful deployment of OpenOffice.org on 450 computers with substantial savings of EUR 100,000 on licensing fees.
Internet Society – Bulgaria also initiated such project in 2004, with the financial support of UNDP – Bulgaria. Details on that project are also available in this document.
Unfortunately, after the project end, the whole information flow on the topic ended. All the opportunities, created from being a pilot municipality in a country in transition, all the chances to position the city under your management in a nice way, being an example in the EU and non EU regional community went to the wild.
I want to very clearly explain to whoever tries to twist the question on what was our role after the project:
ISOC – Bulgaria is not a post-controlling body, we do not have any jurisdiction over municipalities, advisory role, neither financial or human resources to service computer configurations, stimulate employees and doing PR for the local administration units. We worked hard to draft the idea, to create the circumstances for its realization and to implement it. We showed a way to make things better.
Today, three yeas after the project I have no idea neither the deployed OpenOffice.org packages have been still there and used, whether the employees are stimulated to enhance their computer literacy, nor how much the municipalities are saving by using free software. Because probably the mayor has changed, and the new one started to build his own empire on the ruins of the previous one’s accomplishments. Because, obviously in my poor little country, saving taxpayers’ money is not a priority. Too bad, Bulgaria.
I will try to finish this article in a positive way, inspired by constant German influence: hard work is needed, gentleman, more work.