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Polish civil IT procurement watchdog heckles anti-corruption bureau

Polish civil IT procurement w…

Published on: 15/11/2012 News Archived

The Polish civil IT procurement watchdog Pppit condemns the country's Anti-Corruption Bureau for failing to take serious procurement rules. Pppit pointed out to the bureau that it is breaking the rules by procuring specific proprietary software products. The CBA responds that this is allowed, since it is locked-in by the proprietary products.

In October, the CBA published a request for PC, laptops and software, requesting two specific proprietary operating systems. Pppit contacted the organisation, pointing out that this is not allowed under Polish and European procurement rules. The CBA responded in a letter, explaining that the new PCs and laptops need to work with the existing proprietary systems. It argues that this legitimises it to require the new units to be running the same.

"The CBA's attitude is stunning", says a Pppit spokesperson this week. "They fail do see that they are addicted to a single IT vendor."

Pppit says CBA's legal argumentation is incorrect. Its view is confirmed by the Dutch open source procurement expert Mathieu Paapst, a lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. Paapst is about to finish his Ph.D. on procurement and open source. "As long as there are alternatives, public administration may not exclude them in procurement. This is public knowledge since 1995, when the European Commission corrected the Dutch government's requiring of Bell Lab's Unix."

Paapst in October presented similar procurement cases involving other European public administrations including the European Commission. When there is an alternative, Paapst says, the procuring agency cannot even use a negotiated procedure.

Asked to comment, a spokesperson for the CBA yesterday said the organisation "aims to conduct the procurement according to the rule of law". The organisation says it has modified the specifications.

According to Pppit the CBA continues to ignore the vendor lock-in. "CBA officials seem not to understand it." Pppit is considering to take the case to the Public Procurement Office.

More information:
News item by Pppit
Presentation by Matthieu Paapst
Procuring software by mentioning brand names (pdf)
Judgment of the Court of 24 January 1995. Commission of the European Communities v Kingdom of the Netherlands.