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[News] Free Software Faces Barrier of Corruption in Government

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Five Ideas To Get FOSS Into Governments

,----[ Quote ]
| # Fix the procurement policy. While a policy that says open source is great 
| is a good thing, if you don't change the procurement policy it will have no 
| effect. The best open source solutions result from a two-phase procurement 
| process where the first phase buys prototyping and iterating and the second 
| phase buys production deployment and scaling. If you have a procurement 
| process that basically defines software as "something you buy a license for" 
| you'll never get the adoption-led benefits of open source.      
| # Publish tenders by default. In most places, it's illegal to specify a 
| vendor explicitly in a generic request for tender. To deal with this, many 
| countries have open procurement policies, but very, very few publish tender 
| documents, so we have a problem. Initiating a scheme like the one Brenno de 
| Winter has in the Netherlands brings the cleansing power of sunlight into the 
| process. Brenno uses Freedom of Information requests to secure tenders and 
| then posts them to a wiki for community review. You could do that too where 
| you live.       
| [...]



European Commission publishes guidelines on the procurement of FOSS

,----[ Quote ]
| Rishab Ghosh, who presented the guidelines at the Open Source World
| Conference in Malaga, argued that the procurement guidelines were needed
| because of two reasons. First, they studied recent tenders and found that
| many explicitly mentioned proprietary applications. 16% of 3615 software
| tenders explicitly asked for products from top 10 software vendors, such as
| Microsoft, SAP and Oracle. This practice may be illegal because public
| tenders generally have to describe functional requirements in a general way
| instead of specifying specific products. Second, many public administrations
| don't have any experience with the procurement of FOSS. In fact, they often
| don't know whether or under which circumstances they are allowed to adopt and
| ask for FOSS solutions. The guidelines are specifically designed in order to
| clearly and simply explain how public administrations can acquire open source
| and they don't assume that a country has adopted a specific policy regarding
| open source.


Many software tenders in EU maybe 'illegal'

,----[ Quote ]
| Software tenders by European public administration often may not comply with
| EU regulations, illegally favouring proprietary applications. "These tenders
| could be protested against, and if necessary the tendering organisations
| could be taken to court", said Karel De Vriendt, head of the IDABC unit
| responsible for the Open Source Software Observatory and Repository
| (osor.eu).


Hidden cost of proprietary standards may lead to illegal tenders

,----[ Quote ]
| The hidden exit costs imposed by a previous software acquisition are a major
| reason for public administrations to tender software by naming brand names or
| specific products, which may be illegal, says a draft report by the European
| Commission's Open Source Observatory and Repository project (OSOR).


Procurement and Open Source Software (2008) - draft version

,----[ Quote ]
| With the launch of the OSOR, it is natural for public administrations to want
| to try to use open source software, starting with the software that will be
| published on the OSOR.


Quebec government sued for buying Microsoft software

,----[ Quote ]
| Quebec's open-source software association is suing the provincial government,
| saying it is giving preferential treatment to Microsoft Corp. by buying the
| company's products rather than using free alternatives.
| The lawsuit by Facil was lodged with the Quebec Superior Court on July 15 and
| made public on Wednesday. In it, the group says the provincial government has
| refused to entertain competing bids from all software providers, opting
| instead to supply public-sector departments with products bought from
| proprietary vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle Corp.


The Tragedy of the Anti-Commons

,----[ Quote ]
| Misapplication of “value for money” requirements when purchasing software
| results in poor value for money - Government purchasing policies for software
| tend to support the creation of monopolies.  
| Government purchasing has effects on the price paid by citizens for the
| product purchased. In some cases purchasing produces volume which permits  
| scale discounts and therefore a net benefit to citizens who also purchase the
| product. However, in the case of lock in software* Government purchasing can
| create a monopoly in the software which leads to increased costs for citizen
| purchasers and a net detriment for society as a whole. It is not appropriate
| for value for money policies to be assessed on a per acquisition basis when
| software is being acquired. Doing so will almost certainly create net costs
| for the community when considered in the aggregate.      
| [...]
| Government procurement can both create and reinforce a monopoly in goods and
| services which it is acquiring. Anecdotal evidence suggests that bureaucrats
| look at “value for money” type formulae and assess it against the cost to
| Government on a purchase-by-purchase basis. This approach is fine in respect
| of goods and services which are easily substitutable (such as hammers,
| screws, cars etc). In respect of goods which are specifically designed to
| prevent substitutability - eg devices which are not designed to be  
| interoperable it is an extremely hazardous approach. If those goods also tend
| to be a natural monopoly (such as software in general, but particularly that
| which is designed not to be interoperable) this approach is absolutely the
| wrong one.          


Interview with NOiV's Maarten Wijnen-Meijer on Study on Gov't Acquisition of OS
Software - Pick Your Brains

,----[ Quote ]
| A Dutch study has recently been translated and published in English, "The
| acquisition of (open-source) software", by Nederland Open in Verbinding
| (NOiV), which finds that in Europe, gratis software does not require
| tendering and so gratis Open Source software can be freely downloaded without
| having to go through the usual purchase process. If service is required, that
| service would, however, require going through the normal purchasing process,  
| but as a separate matter.      


NL: Use of Open Source software requires no European IT tenders

,----[ Quote ]
| European public administrations that want to use software that is offered for
| free, such as Open Source software, do not need to organise a call for
| tender.
| [...]
| According to Wijnen-Meijer the translation is well-received. "At a recent
| Open Source conference in the US, copies were picked up quickly by companies.
| We also have had requests from cities and ministries in Germany and Greece."



My Visit to Sun

,----[ Quote ]
| Phipps went on to say that one of the main reasons prospects and customers
| are uncomfortable with this open source approach is that it fails to align
| with their expectations of how software is obtained. They're so accustomed to
| the bid/procurement process accompanied by the stereotypical sales rep
| proffering half-truths about the product that they literally feel anxious
| when offered the gift of free software. Furthermore, they're so used to an
| adversarial relationship with sales reps that they are bewildered about how
| to respond to a sales approach that is more collaborative and focused on user
| satisfaction, which is, of course, a prerequisite when what you sell is
| support.          


UK Government: Closed Minds on Open Source

,----[ Quote ]
| To its eternal shame, the UK Government uses far less open source than most.
| Worse, it seems to have a closed mind to the whole idea. That's evident in
| the guidelines that have been released to aid in the interpretation of
| amendments to Computer Misuse Act (CMA) of 1990 with respect to “unauthorised
| access to computer material” (aka cracking)...


The UK has wasted over $4 billion on failed IT projects since 2000

,----[ Quote ]
| The Guardian is reporting that the United Kingdom government has flushed over
| £2 billion (More than US$4 billion) since 2000 on failed IT projects. IT
| projects fail.
| [...]
| And imagine if before the UK government went into these projects if it's cost
| of failure was hugely mitigated upfront by zero licensing costs and the
| chance to fully evaluate technology before adopting it.
| It's called open source. Heard of it?


Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

,----[ Quote ]
| "A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging
| attack on the U.K. government's IT strategy, saying that it has given
| Microsoft too much control.
| John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a
| member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an
| adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the
| debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft
| software, including open source."


Open-source evolves from 'nerdy' to notable

,----[ Quote ]
| Last January, Host Europe, a company that runs the Web sites for 120,000
| businesses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, secured an unlikely supplier
| for the open-source software it uses to run almost all of its computer
| servers.
| [...]
| "I think that the adoption of open source has been much greater in some
| of the Continental markets and in the United States," said Mark Brier,
| an open-source technician at the National Computing Center in
| Manchester, England, a nonprofit group that advises government
| on computer purchases. "Here there is no large-scale adoption."
| Scott Thompson, the executive director of OpenAdvantage, a
| nonprofit group in Birmingham, England, that promotes open-source
| software among businesses in the West Midlands region, said the
| spread has been limited by outmoded government procurement rules
| that favor larger, established proprietary vendors, government
| outsourcing of technology operations to companies with relationships
| to proprietary vendors, and the well-funded defense of proprietary
| software makers.


Bundestag: "Open-source strategy is not in jeopardy"

,----[ Quote ]
| In April the Linux Association had smelt a rat with regard to the
| exchange tests and sharply criticized the manner in which the
| administration of the Bundestag awards contracts. We cannot "help
| suspecting that with the help of the Council of Elders the IT
| strategy of the administration of the Bundestag is being manipulated
| in a manner that excludes the technical departments," the association
| had declared at the time. A spokesman of the administration had replied
| that all procurement acts relating to the pilot project had taken place
| in conformity with the rules laid down for the awarding of
| contracts.


Feds revise IT procurement model

,----[ Quote ]
| The federal government has launched version two of the SourceIT
| model contracts and user notes aimed at simplifying procurement of
| information technology 12 months after the first version.


Governments slammed for anti-competitive software tendering practices    

,----[ Quote ]
| A leading Australian open source advocate has called for an end for to
| tender lock-outs of competitors to Microsoft, claiming the practice
| is costing Australian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each
| year.

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