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This wiki page is part of the FSFE campaign Public Money Public Code and a call for action!
“Public Money? Public Code!” in Europe
Our initiative “Public Money? Public Code!” has the purpose that Software, funded by public money and used in the public administration shall be Free Software. We have an open letter, which you can sign as an individual or as a Non-governmental organization (NGO). So far we have over 29.000 people and nearly 200 NGOs supporting our goal. And already five public entities, the Swedish JobTech Development, the German "Samtgemeinde Elbmarsch", the Spanish parliament from Asturias "Junta General del Principado de Asturias", the Spanish city of Benigànim, and the Spanish city of Barcelona have signed our open letter. We would like to have more administrative units supporting our cause. But to achieve this we need your help.
What we want you to do
Although five public entities have signed the open letter, we would like to have more public administrations sign and thereby support our cause. Therefore we would like you to get in contact with your local public administrative units, like the parliament of the town/city you live in or the administration of the university/school, etc.
Good reasons to get in contact
Governments are among the largest purchasers of information technology (IT) goods and services and provide up to 27% of revenue for software firms (for more information see: "Government Technology Policy, Social Value, and National Competitiveness" by Frank Nagle
How regulation of Software purchases for public sector can benefit the society can, for example, be seen in France. Regulation in France led to a 0.6% - 5.4% yearly increase in companies that use Free Software, a 9% - 18% yearly increase in the number of IT-related startups, a 6.6% - 14% yearly increase in the number of individuals employed in IT-related jobs, and a 5% - 16% yearly decrease in software related patents.
After Barcelona signed the open letter and implemented "Public Money? Public Code!" as a guiding principle for the purchase of new software, they want 70% of their software budget to be invested in Free Software. The participation of SMEs in the support/development of software went up to 60%.
This gives more than one good reason to get in contact with your local public administration and ask them to support "Public Money? Public Code!".
How to approach the administrative unit
Before you start reflect on you resources and time you want to invest in this. It does not make sense if you are a single person trying to convince the government of your country. That's why we try to focus on low-hanging fruits: start with administrations who already use Free Software and are open to our arguments and where there are not to many stakeholders involved. Small steps, in many places can make a great difference!
How to write a e-mail/letter
The first step is to find out who you could contact.
There are many public entities out their to which you could reach out:
- City – also specific parts
- Political Party (or wings)
- State – (i.e. unemployment service)
You could reach out to people working for public entities. They could be:
- Decision makers
- Members of a party
- IT Department
Look for their contact details, their full names and mail addresses. If you don’t find the names and addresses directly you can also call and ask them for any contact details.
Timing matters! After you decided who you want to contact think about the bigger picture and make sure your timing is good. For example if you know something is going to happen in this administrative unit you should step in. Also be proactive and never forget to follow up!
The second step is to write a letter
The letter should be suitable for the administration unit you want to reach out to. There is an example for a letter below the steps. To get an overview of what a letter should look like you can also follow these bullet points:
- start with an introduction about who you are and why you are writing to them,
- some basic information about the “Public Money? Public Code!” campaign as well as a short explanation of what Free Software means,
- arguments for the benefit from using Free Software in public administration
Here you can also have a look at the arguments we used on the "Public Money? Public Code!" website. One of the suitable arguments that could be used for any public entity is saving costs in a long-term perspective through the use of Free Software.
- end the letter with a question, so they are obliged to answer you back.
Additional information you could use for arguments in your letter to the administrative unit:
- Check the social media profile of the public administration you are going to contact.
Have a look if they posted something in connection to Free Software, or their digital strategy.
- Open data, open government or open standards:
If the public entity you are getting in contact with has connections to open government, open data or open standards, then you could use this as an argument. Open government, open data or open standards have the same goals to achieve a more open infrastructure in the public administration as well as in the way a government works. To have Free Software in the public infrastructure needs to be a general part of the demands of open government, open data and open standards.
- Progressive digital policy:
If the administrative unit you are planning on writing to is in favour of or engaged in a progressive digital policy you could use this as an argument in your letter. Draw a line from progressive digital policy to implementing the use of Free Software in the public administration, depending on their digital strategy.
- Coalition agreement, (party) statements about digital policy or a positive stand on Free Software:
Have a look at any published document for their stand on digital policy. Maybe the administration unit you are writing to is in favour of more transparency or even says directly that they want to use Free Software. You can also search for interviews about the digital policy of the administrative unit, or maybe you saw a post/tweet on their social media about their digital policy.
- Personal or professional involvement with Free Software or connections to Free Software:
Additional information could be the direct engagement of the public entity in Free Software. Maybe for example a mayor is supporting the local Linux-user group or the local hackerspace or is otherwise engaged in Free Software. You could use this information in your letter and find related arguments from their engagement to the use of Free Software in the public administration.
The third step is to send the letter/e-mail
After you have the letter ready you can go ahead and send it to them. Please also attach the “Public Money? Public Code!”-brochure for further information.
Now you just have to wait and see how they respond to you.
Last but not least: Contact us!
Let us know what you have done and what responses you got, so that we can help you with any further steps. You can send us an e-mail to email@example.com with the subject line "contacting administrative unit for PMPC". Also, please use our table to add the public entity you contacted.
For a first impression on what a letter could look like have a look at our example letter. But please keep in mind that it might be better to send a personalized letter in your mother tongue. You will find more arguments on our PMPC-website, or in our video, as well as in the brochure itself.
In the letter we suggest to have a call with them. This is only an example and you could also change this to any other form of contact. The important thing is to have some follow-up and getting in touch with the public administrative unit. However, if you feel uncomfortable with getting in touch with them you can also ask them to call the FSFE office number +49-30-27595290. But, please let us know beforehand so that we can prepare our-self.
Here you can find the administrations we have contacted using these letters PMPCcontacts
Success stories across Europe
Also if you have a question, please contact us by sending us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your help and we are looking forward to hear from you!