Tonnerre Lombard

FFII’s coordinator for Switzerland

Federal government grants 42 million franks contract to Microsoft — without tender

The Swiss federal government published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce that it has granted a maintenance contract over CHF 42 million to Microsoft — however, without a prior tender. The monopolist apparently had been granted the contract under exclusion of any potential competition.

The Federal Office of Construction and Logistics (BBL) apparently signed the maintenance contract over Windows and Office licenses, SharePoint et cetera in February already. A tender had never been held, so competitors had never been given a chance to demonstrate their own products. This, however, is clearly against the official regulations for acquisition of resources. A speaker of the Open Source corporation group /ch/open announced that the decision would be contested in front of the Federal Court which, incidentally, is a known user of the suite.

In a television interview on the popular Swiss talk show «10vor10», the responsible official defended the decision with the rather bogus words «We cannot be expected to migrate everything to Open Source software over night.»

In the meanwhile, the decision has caused a lot of press echo. Not only IT newspapers such as ProLinux, Inside-IT and IT Reseller Online have published articles detailing the deal, there were also articles in the Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ), 20 Minuten (print version only) and Infoweek as well as the aforementioned emission of the popular talk show «10vor10».

Not to be outdone, some parliamentarians announced shortly after the SHAB article that they created the «working group digital sustainability» which is pushing for more use of Open Source software in the federal government. Enough precedence cases exist already, with the canton Solothurn using the Linux operating system on the desktop, and other cantons introducing a variety of Open Source tools. But surely, it won’t happen over night.