It was to be expected...
In fact; I even predicted that I'd be impressed the very moment this situation would last for a few years in the very same article by El Reg. Because now they've not been so keen with saving money by moving to an OSS environment, they've actually been wasting a whole lot of the taxpayers money. Great work!
I think the cause of the problem is twofold.
First, I think their main problem was that they went "OSS because....". They didn't look into their situation to pick the best tool for the job, no, instead they heard a magic word called "open source" and so they went "open source" because it would save them lots of money. That's bound to fail. Go open source because its the best or a good tool for the job, don't go open source only because you want to in order to 'save money'.
Open source isn't a magical environment which can save all your problems.
Second, and I think many people overlook this, is inter operability. Sure; when I compare MS Word 2010 to LibreOffice Writer then they can pretty well go head to head. I never did bother with a one on one comparison because I'm not that interested, because both environments have their strengths and their weak spots.
However... While the LibreOffice components (Writer, Sheet, etc.) work excellent individually they can't match the interoperability which is available with MS Office 2010 at this time. They're getting there, but not quite yet. Meaning? I have an address list which sits in Outlook, and I want to write a letter in Word. I can easily setup a template which can retrieve the information straight from Outlook and use it immediately in Word.
I can have an Excel sheet embedded in Word (I know L.O. can do this too) but in a way that it will remain up to date with the information in the Excel sheet itself (this feature I'm not too sure off). But once again; there's also nothing stopping me from setting up a routine which utilizes the Excel sheet as a sort of database to retrieve the info from there and automatically set it up in Word.
And that's only talking inter-operability within Office. This is a setup standard in Windows, not merely Office. Meaning? If I want to control Acrobat from within Word I can since Acrobat provides the APIs for it, if I want to setup a smart document which needs to check the kind of printers I can; it has an API for it, if I want to get registry access from within Office to connect Office to a 3rd party program (information exchange) then I can because there are APIs for it.
THAT is the kind of inter operability which currently isn't present within L.O.
For personal use all of this is major overhead; but for business use it can help you setup constructions which can save hours and hours of work; thus /really/ spare a whole lot of money.
Let me be very clear here: This fail isn't an Open Source fail, not in the very least. Its a bunch of politicians who heard the magic word without having a frickin' clue what they were talking about.
My hope is that the German taxpayers won't stand for this; this is a huge waste of the taxpayers money....