EU called to address discriminatory IT purchases

2 June 2011

2 June 2011 | Angeline Albert  

A number of government agencies in Europe that purchase IT services from the private sector are continuing to illegally specify particular brands, according to a recent report.

For the past two years, OpenForum Europe (OFE) has published a report about the use of specific trademarks by European Union (EU) member states when procuring IT software and systems. The 2010 report, which is based on data collected between February and April 2010 but has just been published, monitors tender notices issued for computer software products by local government authorities and larger bodies in the EU.

Of the 441 invitations to tender by contracting authorities procuring computer software, more than one in 10 notices included technical specifications with explicit references to trademarks, according to OFE’s Procurement Monitoring Report 2010. According to the study, 13 per cent of tenders published in the supplement to the Official Journal of the EuropeanUnion (OJEU) make reference to a specific brand name or trademark, which discriminates against a significant part of the market.

In 2010, the highest number of invitations to tender with specific references to trademarks were from contracting authorities in Poland, France and Germany.

The report said: “These findings led us to conclude that engaging in a more comprehensive and global analysis of the EU's procurement market would show that the use of discriminatory technical specifications is a widespread practice within the EU.”

OpenForum Europe recommended increased scrutiny and called for the EU to address the issue when the public procurement directive is next debated.

The report said: “While this report clearly shows that there is an EU-wide level practice of contracting authorities making reference to specific trademarks when seeking to purchase IT supplies, this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

“In light of these results, the forthcoming revision of the EU Public Procurement Directives should take into account discriminatory practices persisting in the procurement market and to which the current legal framework contributes to.”

OpenForum Europe has already collected the data for the next report and a spokesman told SM that the figures are “looking very similar to last year”.

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