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Open Source receives official support in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

On November 11, 2011, the government of the State of Rio de Janeiro - the second largest state in Brazil in terms of population and GDP - published a new law, which mandates public entities and companies in Rio de Janeiro to give preference to open document formats, in particular ODF. The publication of Law #5978/2011 was celebrated in an official event with representatives from the government, several state companies, and the FLOSS community.

The idea is both to cut license costs and to promote data openness. It is estimated that the adoption of open source software on 20% of the state-owned computers would promote savings of BRL 20M/year (approx. USD 12M/year) as well as foster the growth of the local IT market. Most important to the legislators, however, is vendor independence and the guarantee of data accessibility for any citizen, both now and in the future. The initiative also intends to promote the development of a "Shared Knowledge Portal" where educational material on open source will be made available not only for the companies involved but to the population at large.

Several Brazilian government entities heavily involved with IT had already signed the "Brasilia Protocol" in 2008, a mutual commitment to Open Data Formats. Similarly, many government sectors were already implementing changes towards open source internally. This new Law formalizes this commitment and extends it to the whole of the public administration in the State of Rio de Janeiro.