Open source instead of Microsoft: the federal and state governments plan a “sovereign workplace”

In order to reduce the administration’s dependence on Microsoft, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and nine federal states want to jointly develop a “sovereign workplace” with open source software for the public sector. The federal government published a corresponding declaration of intent on Wednesday. It was preceded by an announcement two years ago.

Now the nine federal states and the federal government want to jointly provide and test “basic functions” for productivity, collaboration and communication (such as video conferences). Open-source-based applications and open interfaces should be used, it says in the declaration (PDF).

The signatories are Federal CIO Markus Richter and those responsible for IT in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Together they want to use the project to strengthen “independence from providers of proprietary software solutions”. Primarily Microsoft is meant; So far, the administration of the federal, state and local governments has used Microsoft Office and Exchange almost exclusively. “Closing ranks for digital sovereignty is important”, said the Thuringian State CIO Hartmut Schubert.

It remains to be seen whether the states and the federal government will use the “sovereign workplace” in practice in the future or just want to have an alternative to Microsoft up their sleeves. So far, only the state government of Schleswig-Holstein has announced that it will completely replace proprietary software with open source in the long term. First Microsoft Office and later Windows will be replaced there.

The project brings back memories of LiMux, the open source workplace of the city of Munich. The capital of the Free State has returned to Microsoft software after a few years from LiMux.

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