The European Commission has selected a consortium led by Unisys Belgium, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation, to create and manage the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR). This contract was awarded to the consortium, consisting of Unisys Belgium, the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, GOPA Cartermill and the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, after a public call for tender. 

This Internet service and portal allows European administrations to centrally store and share the software code of their open source applications and exchange open source knowledge. This collaboration is intended to enable the European Member States' administrations to improve the return on their information technology investments and make their applications more interoperable. 

OSOR is a common repository where, in addition to the source and object code, information is available regarding the use of applications, different software versions, open source licences or contract material. On the OSOR Web portal, member states' administrations will also be able to share know-how about their different open source applications. 

The European Commission anticipates that OSOR will encourage European administrations to use each other's software and develop common projects - for example, in public e-procurement, interoperability between government applications or mutual recognition of the various e-ID card formats. The sharing and reuse of applications can have significant economic impact as public administrations can save on investments and rely on each other's expertise.

"Public administrations' interest in open source is not so much about open source replacing proprietary products," said Karel De Vriendt, head of the European Union's European eGovernment Services Unit. "More and more it is about developing custom applications based on open source software, on collaboration during development and on using open source licences to share the results of such developments. The new OSOR should become the preferred cooperation tool to speed up software pooling among member states." 

In consultation with all stakeholders, Unisys and its partners will determine the format of OSOR this year, expecting the service to be operational in late 2007. Unisys will provide advice to all stakeholders and promote the OSOR service. It will also look for interesting open source applications to add to OSOR and support collaboration between different European open source projects.

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