Microsoft and National Education: Anticor files complaint

The court in Paris (in 2017), the headquarters of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF). Photo: Wikipedia / Jeanne Menjoulet

The anti-corruption association Anticor announced this week that it had filed a complaint on May 2 with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), “relating to suspicions of favoritism in awarding a national public education contract to American company Microsoft “.

Calling for tenders “for the exclusive benefits of Microsoft”

Anticor quoted a September 2020 article from Le Canard enchaîné, reporting a call for tenders for 8.3 million euros launched by the Ministries of National Education and Higher Education, for the equipment of 800,000 positions with Microsoft licenses.

“However, note Anticor, the approach to this call for tenders raises questions. In fact, it seems to be built for the exclusive benefit of the American company, even if the free software companies in France offers solutions with the same tools and performance.

On the one hand, the provisions of the Public Procurement Code provide that “the technical details of a contract may not refer to a brand or a patent if it is likely to favor or eliminate certain operators”. Its purpose need not be written to suggest that a company is favored.

However, by granting its market right “the concession of the right to use on a non-exclusive basis, in perpetual manner or in lease mode, of Microsoft solutions and partner services”, the National Education clearly names American company-specific solutions. technique and therefore did not include any alternative.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s awarding of the contract seems to be contrary to the Education Code which, in contrast, encourages the public service to use free software for its users.

If the facts are proven, they could represent a significant violation of public procurement rules, in terms of freedom of access and fair treatment of candidates.

A market divided by technical specifics that does not include any alternative discourages candidates. However, the existence of these alternatives obliges administrations to go through an invitational approach to offer to all market players.

Anticor points to a dangerous commercial relationship between a French administration and a digital giant that enjoys an almost complete monopoly even if the companies offer equivalent solutions.

CNLL: “State chooses to pay annuity to Microsoft”

This call for tenders in 2020 has sparked protests, including by CNLL (open digital companies) including François Aubriot, member of the board of directors and head of the “public procurement” monitoring unit. , lamented that Duck “chose the State. to pay Microsoft annuities rather than resorting to French companies that are fully capable of providing them with the services requested and that do not practice tax optimization”. “CNLL recalls that, for all software categories mentioned in the call for tenders, there is free software, often brought in by French or European publishers, with features and performances comparable to the software. at Microsoft, which obliges administrations to go through a tendering procedure that is open to all of these actors. ”

“By favoring (in defiance of the most basic public procurement rules) a non-European player, a repeated offender convicted of abusing a dominant position and anti-competitive works, CNLL once again marks the gap between the current discourse on digital sovereignty.and the reality of public procurement in the digital field.He once again called for free software to be fully addressed. all levels of State and local authorities, as a major tool for strengthening French and European digital sovereignty.

Read also

StopCovid: national financial prosecutor’s office investigates suspicions of favoritism – May 21, 2021

Free National Education software: a question, a non -answer and elements – September 27, 2020

National education: here’s why Microsoft is a tough drug – September 11, 2020

Investigating Cash: Free Software, Defense, Microsoft and Italy – October 22, 2016

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