NZ Fire Service VOIP Tender
Sep 27, 2008
12:19 AM EDT
|I noticed a recent advertisement for a tender to supply a VOIP system. I was concerned because it mentions MS and I believe that the NZ government should be promoting open standards, much as the SA government are doing. I have attached my email and their reply. I would like to get your suggestions and reactions for when I reply to their email, as I will do. Of course I would welcome anyone else to email the Fire Service directly if you wish to.
By the way I am just a concerned citizen with no ties with any prospective tenderer.
Dear Mr Harton
Your email in relation to the VOIP tender was addressed to Russell Wood but sent to me. However, I will be responding formally on behalf of the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) to the concerns you raise in your communication.
Firstly, In accordance with NZFS Procurement Policy, this tender was issued in the open and competitive environment of the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS). We have chosen to respond to you as there is no indication that you are involved with a company that might tender for the contract or that answering this question could prejudice our tender processes.
The tender seeks IP Telephony solutions which are certified by Microsoft as compatible with the Microsoft Unified Communications Platform, but doesn't require them to be from Microsoft or any other particular vendor. In general the NZFS position is that we will evaluate Open Source solutions alongside proprietary solutions and make our selection based on the merits of the particular solutions themselves.
The certification requirement in this tender stems from the fact that NZFS operates a predominantly Microsoft based technology platform and operating system. This is the path NZFS has strategically chosen to follow for the last 10 years, having given due consideration to alternatives throughout that period. As a result NZFS has a large investment in both financial terms and in established technical skills and practices, in order to support and maintain the platform. As party to the Government negotiated G2006 Microsoft Select Agreement, NZFS has access to the benefits of this Microsoft contract. The NZFS will continue to evaluate platform options in the future.
NZFS seeks to extract maximum benefits from its technology investments. NZFS has embarked on a programme of implementing the MOSS (Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server) product as part of the technology platform. This itself represents a significant investment. Within the NZFS Information Systems Strategic Plan is the desire to integrate a Unified Communications application with the various Microsoft applications we have already invested in, including MOSS. The Microsoft Unified Communications platform will allow us to achieve the efficiencies of seamless integration through a single vendor, compatibility with our existing hardware environment and expertise set, therefore protecting and maximising our existing significant investments.
The NZFS will not discuss details of any proposed tender evaluation as this would be completely unethical given that a tender is underway and we do not intend to withdraw and re-issue the subject tender.
We will issue this response, without reference to your details, to all prospective tenderers who have downloaded the tender document.
Corporate Communications Manager
New Zealand Fire Service
National Headquarters Level 9, 80 The Terrace PO Box 2133, Wellington
DDI: (04) 496 3728 Mobile: 027 6543 123
From: Dave Harton [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, 23 September 2008 08:18 To: Sargentina, Scott Cc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Fire Service VOIP Tender - Attention Russell Wood
I believe that the Fire Service is engaging in anti-competitive practices by specifying a vendor with it's tender for an IP Telephony System as per the tender link advert below. Instead of specifying Microsoft products, which use proprietary protocols and standards, the tender should promote products that use open protocols and standards. Indeed I believe that the NZ Government should be promoting the use of internationally supported and open standards..
As a telecommunications engineer I know that there are more products than just Microsoft based products that can fit the NZ Fire Department requirements. And I believe that you are cutting out a number of firms that could provide a non-MS product.
I believe that this tender should be rewritten so that it is vendor neutral.
Please advise what actions you will be taking to ensure an open and competitive tender for this project.
Regards, Dave Harton
cc: Please copy to: Paul Swain, Minister for IT George Hawkins, Minister of Internal Affairs State Services Commission Maurice Williamson, National spokesman for IT Metiria Turei, Greens spokesman for IT
Sep 27, 2008
12:51 AM EDT
|The NZ Fire Service is well and truely locked in to Microsoft based technologies. You will not get them to consider, seriously, anything out side of that particular walled garden. The very fact that they are implementing MOSS will make it almost impossible for them to consider anything that is not based on Microsoft technologies. The best that can be achieved, in an Open Source sense, is OSS based on, and integrating into, those technologies, and I'm pretty certain there is nothing like that mature enough to meet the tender .requirements.
Sep 27, 2008
1:00 AM EDT
|Is there anything we can do to raise the awareness of this issue tracyanne? Does anyone have any ideas?
Sep 27, 2008
1:17 AM EDT
|The fact that this is now out on the web, will help, depending on how many, and who they are, people read this. Dave could probably get in touch with tth NZ FOSS and Linux and Open stadards groups. I believe the Greens were included on the CC of Dave's original email, he should copy them and probably the other IT spokespeople in on the reply, if he hasn't done so already.
"We" could probably try to get this information more widely dissemenated, let FOSS VOIP software people know, FSF, i don't know.. lots of possibilities. But... big but, it's unlikely to make ay difference in this case. The NZFS is locked in to Microsoft technology, as expensive as it is for them, as much tax payer money as they are wasting, to move to an Open Standards platform will be even more expensive.
The best Dave can hope for is to work to change the NZ governments procurement guidlines, such that new acquisitions can (must) consider FOSS and Open standards, and more important work towards integrating Open standards in all acquisitions.
Sep 27, 2008
3:55 AM EDT
|Interesting... From the letter:
Quoting:The tender seeks IP Telephony solutions which are certified by Microsoft as compatible with the Microsoft Unified Communications Platform, but doesn't require them to be from Microsoft or any other particular vendor.
Quoting:The Microsoft Unified Communications platform will allow us to achieve the efficiencies of seamless integration through a single vendor, compatibility with our existing hardware environment and expertise set, therefore protecting and maximising our existing significant investments.
Single vendor? How do you know it's a single vendor? Unless you already know that you're going to pick Microsoft's software...
Anyway, my answer would probably be to point out a possible solution that would be blocked by the current tender. For example, Sharepoint can also integrate with SIP, so you could use any Asterisk or FreeSwitch based PBX instead of Microsoft Unified Communications Platform (MUCP). The requirement for MUCP means SIP is excluded, which is also a viable solution. Not to mention that SIP is an open standard so if should be preferred over MUCP anyway.
Sep 27, 2008
8:47 AM EDT
Good catch. I'd be willing to bet the author is unaware of his contradiction.
You cannot post until you login.