Despite a struggling economy and public debt, the Hungarian government continues to spend millions on Microsoft licences when cheaper alternatives exist, say open source groups
With governments across Europe including the UK looking to slash public spending to tackle budget deficits resulting from bank bail-outs and other effects of the recession, open source could be an important way to cut IT costs, according to free software advocates.
But with Microsoft and other IT vendors equally keen to maintain lucrative government contracts as the private sector continues to keep costs down, open source groups in countries such as Switzerland and Hungary are asking hard questions about why the software is not even being considered as an option for some public sector departments.
According to a statement on the EU Open Source Observatory and Repository for European public administrations (OSOR) – a site for information exchange about community developed software – five open source groups including the Hungarian Open Document Format Alliance (ODFA) are petitioning the Hungarian government to disclose how much it spends on proprietary software licences.
In an open letter to the Hungarian government’s procurement agency – Directorate General for Central Services (KSZF) – the ODFA states that last year the government spent around 9.5bn Hungarian forints (35 million Euros) on Microsoft software and has already spent 6.3m Euros on educational licenses and millions more on consultation and services from the software giant. “Please make your calculations known to the public which will prove that open source will not be a viable low cost alternative,” the letter states.
Like other economies in eastern Europe, Hungary has taken a battering during the financial crisis and was the first EU country to accept a loan from the International Monetary Fund in October, worth around £15.6 billion.
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