only one company-tender? isn't that iillegal in the EU?

Story: Ten of the biggest Dutch municipalities say 'enough!' to MicrosoftTotal Replies: 4
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Dec 28, 2006
1:21 AM EDT
Thanks Hans and Scott, this is really interesting and encouraging!

One thing though makes me wonder. AFAIK we have some laws in the EU stipulating EU-wide tenders for any government acquisition and contract above a given financial limit. Therefore the NL-MS deal should be illegal, the contract revoked and a EU-wide tender should be started. So why doesn't it happen? Do you know more about this? I am no lawyer and in no way firm in regulatory law in the EU. So maybe s.o. else could elaborate on this?


Dec 28, 2006
3:54 AM EDT
I had this discussion with my dad who occasionally does EU-wide tenders. Apparently it's not illegal if all other participants fail to meet certain criteria. For example, say there's a tender out for application servers. The pre-tender criteria could be "must be able to fit inside existing thin client arcitecture". Now, if the current infrastructure happens to be Citrix Metaframe, only Windows server suppliers will be allowed to tender (there are as-of-yet no Linux Citrix servers). They are not allowed to name names though (i.e. they can't say "must run Windows" or "Must be Citrix compatible").

It's kind of like the fuss from a few years back, about tenders requiring a minimum Mhz/Ghz count for CPU's, while "overlooking" the fact that AMD chips do the same ammount of work in far fewer cycles. Incidentally, this is also why AMD has this weird CPU numbering scheme - the looks. The AMD 3200+ is roughly equivalent (ballpark) with a 3200 Mhz Intel processor, while only running at 2000 Mhz in reality. It goes to the "bigger numbers are better" feeling.

Dec 28, 2006
4:35 AM EDT
Quoting:the NL-MS deal should be illegal

Wish it was. They didn't keep it secret for nothing, I suppose.

Anyway, let me summarize some Dutch info for you, but translated (sloppy translation) to English. This is an open 'complaint' letter from Bits of Freedom - a Dutch freedom organization like the EFF is for the US - to the Dutch cabinet: (Dutch)

Amsterdam, 10 dec 2004 The "Automatiseringsgids" (magazine about 'automating/computerizing ed.) of Dec 3d mentions the (Dutch ed.) government and some municipalities made an exclusive deal for €147 million and a term of five years with Microsoft. This tender wasn't open to anyone but Microsoft.

...Such a deal violates the (Dutch ed.) "cabinet's" policy, to strive for open standards, open source and supplier independence. Moreover, Microsoft is convicted by the European Commission for "faulty" interoperability of its server products...

...To prevent a "supplier" lock-in, the government has to find new ways to save money (By means of open source / open standards ed.)...

The deal was a 'all-in' deal, which included the OSes, applications (MS office) and server software.

Several large organizations, like Apache, Unix Users Group Netherlands, Red Hat Benelux (BElgium, NEtherlands, LUXemburg ed.), "Dutch Consumer Union", KDE-NL, Novell etc. signed this letter.

Following this, Linspire claimed it could do the same job, which was about 260.000 workplaces, for only €2 million, thereby saving over 140 million.

Here I found what you were talking about (probably:) (Dutch again) 4 Dutch MEP's asked questions about the agreement, and specifically asked how this agreement obeys European requirements for an open tender... ...Also, those 4 MEP's want to know how this is consistent with the Dutch OSSOS programme (Open Source Software / Open Standards programme, mandated by the ministry of home affairs / economic affairs) and the motion 'Vendrik (a MEP who proposed the Dutch government should only use open standards by 2006 red.)'

After that, I heard nothing about it anymore. I should read the transcripts of the parliament meetings which should contain the answers of the cabinet to those questions to find out more about it.

BTW we also had (what is here known as) the 'build/construct fraud' here in the Netherlands, where all Dutch building/constructing firms made secret price arrangements. Because that made a lot of big infrastructure projects mandated by the federal government way to expensive, and the taxpayers pasted for this fraud, they had a serious 'governmental investigation'. A part of the conclusions were, any tender by the government should be European wide, and the government didn't wanted to be ripped of again. Surprisingly, this investigation was _before_ the exclusive, 'secret' Microsoft-only tender.

Dec 28, 2006
11:04 AM EDT
Thanx sander and hkwint for your responses. Looks like the Netherlands has the same problems as we (the germans) have. Talking a lot about open source, open formats, open standards and the like. But few actions if any.

But the tide is changing and more and more governments, municipalities and the like are taking the lead. Nice to hear about Amsterdam (_the_ symbol of the Netherlands for us Germans) and Enschede (the nearest Dutch town to my home town; I very nearly would have started working there - even though I do not speak any Dutch as of yet) and the other towns as well. Good luck!

Dec 28, 2006
12:43 PM EDT
Change is slow but sure to come. What would be a huge boon for Linux takeup in Dutch government would be the possibility to serve Linux applications to Citrix clients. Pretty much every branch of Dutch government that I have IT knowledge of are big Citrix fans (with Linux thin clients, mind you). Either that, or they run some aging Win95/98/2K network on older PC's.

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