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OFE: 'Continued discrimination in IT procurement'

Joinup - Public administrations across Europe continue to discriminate in their IT calls for tender by asking for specific brands and products, concludes OpenForum Europe, and organisation advocating for an open, competitive ICT market. "Thousands of small IT firms are excluded from competing in the public procurement process by restrictions such as the naming of trademarks in calls for tender", said Graham Taylor, OFE's CEO, in a press statement.

Naming trademarks in tenders is viewed as discriminatory and, except under specific and exceptional circumstances, is against existing EU procurement laws, explains OFE in its press release. "By specifying one preferred supplier, public bodies are inadvertently helping dominant firms maintain their stranglehold on markets to the detriment of smaller competitors. In addition, the lack of competition often leads to greater expenses, resulting in a waste of EU's taxpayer money."

It is the sixth consecutive year that OFE has studied samples of ICT procurement notices. It looked at 843 requests for computer software products, all published between October and December last year on TED. The advocacy group found that 22 percent of these made explicit references to brands and trademarks. In its report, OFE notes that this is merely the 'tip of the iceberg', as the group only looked for trademarks and did not scan procurement notices for discriminatory wording. Also, in some cases detailed information was only made available to registered potential bidders.