The Romanian ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) says that internal and European interoperability requirements are forcing it to ban the use of open source software in the building of a system to manage criminal records.
The explicit ban of software available under an open source licence is one of the requirements made by the ministry in the tender published on 2 July. MAI is requesting an 'Information System of Romanian Criminal Records (Rocris)', for a budget of 12 million Rom (about 2.85 million euro).
On page 64 of the 'Specifications', in a paragraph highlighted in yellow, the ministry writes: "All versions of software that are part of the offer may not be published under a 'free software license' - GPL or similar."
Asked to explain why open source software solutions can not be considered, the ministry late last week replied: "Despite the fact the MAI administers GPL systems and encourages their use, for the time being all critical systems are implemented on Enterprise platforms, in order to be able to follow strict requirements for security and interoperability."
"Because the present discussion is about implementing a critical national IT system, and given the necessity to remain interoperable with the other internal MAI and European IT systems, the new system must implement specific security requirements."
The ministry also referred to clarification it had added to the procurement documentations on 10 August: "We keep this requirement. Given the importance of acquisition in terms of system security issues, internal policies prohibit the existence of the possibility to amend the source code."
This reply followed a protest by one of the interested parties, who wrote the ministry that the requirement is anticompetitive and therefore illegal: "Given the fact that this project will be financed in part by the European Union, and that the EU recommends the use of open source and open standards, please confirm that it is possible to use an enterprise platform that is based on open standards, which provides interconnectivity and interoperability to existing European platforms and is just as efficient and reliable as proprietary systems."
According to the tender documentation, the Rocris project is meant to result in a computerised database of persons with criminal records, that can be linked to the European system of information on criminal records (Eucris). The system should be up and running in April next year.
The deadline for submitting offers passes this Tuesday.
Clarification on the explicit ban of open source (in Romanian)