François Fillon calls for a widespread use of open format in the public administration

On August 31st 2011, the French Prime Minister François Fillon called on his ministers to ensure the "widespread use of open formats in the public administration", as part of the public administrations' publishing of public data1. April is delighted with this course of action, as it is consitent with the intent of making available public data, and it reminds that Free Software allows the good use of free and open formats.

Such "free and open formats" have been defined in 2004 by the French Law entitled "Loi pour la confiance dans l'économie numérique" as "all interoperable data formats whose specifications are public and whose access and implementation are unrestricted"2 Spreading such formats will allow to improve information, data continuity and the exchanges between public administrations and citizens..

In addition, the use of open formats within the public administration was a long-standing expectation made by April: it could be a source of savings for public authorities. By allowing interoperability and by reducing technological confinement, such free and open formats will allow the public purchaser to put themselves in position to choose where to make the best computing investments.

While the General Repository for Interoperability (in French: "Référentiel Général d’Interopérabilité" or RGI) had caused considerable confusion by mixing open formats and proprietary formats and had led to an increased risk of technological lock-up of public administrations, 3, this new course of action seems to be returning to the goal of truly open and interoperable formats, which are beneficial to public entities.

April therefore congratulates the French Prime Minister for this decision. April also stresses the importance of returning to the RGI in order to clearly redefine free and open formats,so as to generalize them across public administrations.