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'Discriminatory procurement specifications widespread'

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European public administrations continue to limit ICT competition by publishing procurement requests that specify brands and trademarks, says OpenForum Europe, a group advocating open standards. OFE calls for a revision of legislation. "Discriminatory practices hinder the Single Market and are an obstacle to small and medium sized enterprises."

This Wednesday OFE published the results of its examination of 841 ICT procurement notices, published on the European Tenders Electronic Daily website (TED) between 1 April and 30 June 2013. The group found that 17% of tender notices included technical specifications with explicit references to trademarks. This is only a slight improvement to the 19% OFE reported last February. "The rate of 'problematic' references remains stable at 13%".

Obstacles

The organisation says that the discriminatory practices it found are just the "tip of the iceberg". The TED website publishes less than a fifth of all European requests and OFE did also not tally exclusions based on trademarks, patents or technical specifications. In some cases information was only made available to those registering as potential bidders. The group also notes there is a wide variety in the amount of information provided.

OFE calls on EU decision-makers to remove artificial obstacles, improve procedures and encourage competition. "Policies and processes should not discriminate against business models or suppliers."

The cost of exit

The group also wants public administrations to take into account barriers to exit. This economics term covers IT vendor lock-in, 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 should follow open standards, the crucial issue for software interoperability."

 

More information:

OFE Procurement Monitoring Report 2013 – 1st Snapshot (pdf)
OpenForum Europe announcement
Joinup news item

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