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PR: Spanish Administration Seeks Technology Neutrality

May 24, 2005, 19:45 (11 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Jose Maria Lancho for this release. ]

As a consequence of a complaint filed by Attorney-at-Law José María Lancho Rodriguez at the Spanish Ombudsman-People Defender's Office-(Q0421473), the Ministry of Public Administration of Spain has agreed that the pre-eminence of Microsoft Corporation technology in the internal structure of the Central Administration demands the elaboration and implementation of a neutral-technology stipulation for the acquisition of informatic products.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Administration of Spain points out the necessity of establishing pertinent rules by the Administration to guarantee a technological neutrality of the informatic systems by establishing a new contract criteria for the Administration: the technology neutrality itself. This is to be done to avoid users seeking access to telematic procedures of the State Central Administration be affected by any incompatibility of Microsoft Operating System with other programs. Likewise, the Ministry reports the urgent need of adopting measures to avail the use of free software, as well as of open source software, in the Administration.

A few days after the acceptance of the complaint the Interministerial Agency, which rules the acquisition of informatic goods by the State, has issued new directives to implement the technology neutrality of the Spanish State in its informatic infrastructure.

The Attorney Lancho also claimed that virtually all of projects being launched by the Administration include in their specification tenders an explicit or explicit demand of the use of technologies created by Microsoft Corporation. Such a situation prevents other software producers to bid at any public auction, which means a clear injury to the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and free competition ruling Public Transactions in Spain.

In this way, significant contracting figures are attained, on the Government's account (and this in a contracting environment which is considered only as administrative), have been never submitted to any Public Concurrence (Bid to Auction).

This monopoly situation has become possible and is being consolidated thanks to a deficient employment level of the Public Administration Contracts Act. Here again, we understand it injures the basic principles to which Administrative Law is subject, such as (to those effects), Article 210b of Public Administration Contracts Act, which was operative owing that cost per unit of each software license is usually lower than that of the legal thresholds, which would be obliged at public auction. This has had the practial effect of allowing only one software maker for the Spanish Administration. Also, the complaint adds that the software's nature is proving its vertical character, especially in big structures, which is another handicap since it is not always compatible with other competing software products.

The result is that updating of prograns --or their development--and therefore the public services using them are directed to an in-fact--almost in-right--monopolist situation.

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