QUEBEC'S GOVERNMENT has been sued by an Open Sauce software group for buying Microsoft products while ignoring free software alternatives, it came to light Wednesday.
In a lawsuit filed on July 15th and just lately made public, Quebec's Open Source software association Facil said that the provincial government had refused to consider competitive bids from all software providers, but had instead abused a legal loophole to buy software exclusively from proprietary vendors, specifically Microsoft and Oracle.
Facil claims government buyers are getting around provincial laws requiring competitive bidding and local source preferences by misusing an exception that allows purchasers to buy directly from proprietary vendors when no other options are available.
Facil's president Mathieu Lutfy told the CBC, "It shouldn't be the rule. It goes against the public markets policy of the government, which requires them to stimulate competition and look for local alternatives. It's really an absurdity."
The Open Sauce group said Quebec paid Microsoft $25 million just between February and June, and estimates it is spending $80 million per year for Windows Vista licences alone.
Lutfy said, "Those are costs that could be saved."
Facil's lawsuit asks that the Quebec government be barred from misusing the proprietary loophole and be required to entertain competing proposals. It is not seeking any damages, but does request legal costs.
Quebec government procurement officials reportedly could not be reached for comment. µ
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