'Use of discriminatory technical specifications is a widespread practice within the EU', says Open Forum Europe (OFE), an organisation advocating the use of open standards and open source.
The group examined 585 invitations to tender, published in March, April and May this year by public administrations looking for computer software products. OFE found that almost 1 in 5 of these, procurement rules are broken (17 per cent).
"This is merely the tip of the iceberg", OFE writes in its report, published on 27 July.
"Considering that public procurement amounts to about 19.4 per cent of the economic activity in the EU, an unchecked widespread discriminatory practice can have a very important impact in the market. In this view, bearing in mind the specific limitations of this report, 17 per cent is undoubtedly a relevant figure."
OFE calls on the European Union, currently revising its procurement rules, to "take into account the discriminatory practices happening in the procurement market." Public administrations should not discriminate against certain types of business models or suppliers, the group writes.
The lobby group also recommends to get rid of 'barriers to exit', a form of IT vendor lock-in. "If these barriers persist in the market, this may have the effect of allowing inefficient suppliers to remain in the market. It may persuade contracting authorities to apply exceptional awarding procedures to extend existing contracts, instead of inviting other economic operators to bid."
OFE procurement monitoring report 2012