Latvia's public administrations procuring IT solutions need to formulate bids that allow real competition, that do not hinder bidders from suggesting open source solutions and must include vendor-independent technical specifications, recommend the Latvian Open Technology Association and Latvia's Procurement Monitoring Bureau in a report published in July.
Their procurement report is titled 'Issues and Recommendations in IT procurement'. The tackles a broad range of problems found in the country's IT procurement. A few of these conflicts are related to open source and open standards.
For example, public administrations sometimes ban the use of software published under open source licences, such as the GNU Public Licence. The organisations note that these contracting authorities erroneously believe that such a licence forces them to make public the derived software solution.
In addition to pointing out the error, the organisations encourage public administrations to increase their use of free and open source software. "Software development paid for by the taxpayers should be made publicly available, to enable sharing and reuse and for the public interest."
The report also describes how technical specifications can limit competition. Examples include limiting the type of database management system that can be offered, or by demanding software interface requirements only sold by a single proprietary software vendor.
In a statement published by the Latvian Open Technology Association last week, LATA board member Peteris Sliede explains that the group over the past years has noted several such shortcomings in IT procurement in the public sector. "Our procurement guide will help public administrations formulate requirements and prepare procurement. We hope that our recommendations become a practical guide for all procurement specialists."
Sliede recommends that public authorities allow competing contractors and consultants to recommend solutions before large-scale IT procurement documents are published. "This would help asses the range of available technical solutions and could ensure that there actually will be competition."
Work on the procurement guide started last year, following a workshop on problems in public procurement of IT, organised by LATA.