Romanian Unreasonableness

I wrote last week about Romania's exclusion of open source from a major government contract. We now have the "reason" for this: Asked to explain why open source software solutions can not be considered, the ministry late last week replied:...

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I wrote last week about Romania's exclusion of open source from a major government contract. We now have the "reason" for this:

Asked to explain why open source software solutions can not be considered, the ministry late last week replied: "Despite the fact the MAI administers GPL systems and encourages their use, for the time being all critical systems are implemented on Enterprise platforms, in order to be able to follow strict requirements for security and interoperability."

"Because the present discussion is about implementing a critical national IT system, and given the necessity to remain interoperable with the other internal MAI and European IT systems, the new system must implement specific security requirements."

It's not entirely clear what this means. If it's that free software is unable to implement the system because of "interoperability" with existing systems, this offers a textbook example of how free software is unfairly excluded from competing when proprietary standards are involved (since interoperability would not be an issue if truly open standards were employed.) It emphasises again why open standards that are RF (Restriction-Free) not FRAND must be the norm if a level playing field is to be created for European software procurement.

Another interpretation of that "explanation" is that interoperability means security, and free software is unable to provide that according to the Romanian ministry:

The ministry also referred to clarification it had added to the procurement documentations on 10 August: "We keep this requirement. Given the importance of acquisition in terms of system security issues, internal policies prohibit the existence of the possibility to amend the source code."

This is ridiculous – whoever put this together clearly doesn't understand free software. As I noted before, since this system would not be distributed, there is no requirement to release the source code. This means that it would be no different from closed-source software, with no "risk" of code being altered.

Whatever the real reason, the excuses being offered for Romania's bizarre behaviour are simply unacceptable.

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