[Discussioni] I costi nascosti dei formati proprietari

Marco Ciurcina ciurcina a studiolegale.it
Ven 31 Ott 2008 18:04:29 CET


Hidden cost of proprietary standards may lead to illegal tenders  

The hidden exit costs imposed by a previous software acquisition are a major 
reason for public administrations to tender software by naming brand names or 
specific products, which may be illegal, says a draft report by the European 
Commission's Open Source Observatory and Repository project (OSOR).  
The report 'Guidelines on public procurement and Open Source Software', was 
released on Monday in Malaga, Spain, during the Open Source World Conference. 
The guideline is meant to explain to public administrators why it is useful 
to acquire Open Source and Open Standards software, and how they can do so 
under the current procurement rules.

According to the report, public administrations that are not selecting Open IT 
Standards when tendering software can cause contractual obligations to extend 
beyond the procurement period. This is not normally allowed by tender 
regulations. "The administration did not think about the exit costs five 
years ago, and now they are stuck", explained Rishab Ghosh, one of the 
authors of the guideline, who presented the study in the city of Malaga.

A basic assumption of public procurement is that at the end of the defined 
period, the public administrator has no contractual obligations towards the 
software vendor. This assumption breaks down for software based on 
proprietary standards. "If the software originally purchased makes it 
difficult to use documents and data with similar software from other 
produces, there is a high cost of changing software vendor", says the report.

"If you cannot quantify these exit costs, then you should limit them. If you 
cannot limit them, then you either need other software, or you need better 
criteria", Ghosh said on Monday. He called on public administrations to begin 
to properly evaluate the long term costs of the use of proprietary 
standards. "Public administrations need to keep their options open. Their 
documents and date must be available for ever."


According to the guideline, using Open IT standards will help to make public 
IT systems sustainable over the long term. "This implies lower costs over the 
longer term, but more importantly, reduces the users' reliance on the 
original vendors of the software."

The guideline recommends public administrations to list criteria for Open IT 
standards when they tender software, for example by requiring that the 
standard is implementable by all potential providers or does not restrict 

Ghosh works at UNU-MERIT in The Netherlands, a research institute of the 
United Nations University and Maastricht University, one of the partners in 
the OSOR
The Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) Technical platform (or Web 
site) is a project owne ...

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