Anticor, a French association specializing in the fight against corruption, filed a complaint in early May with the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) against Microsoft for favoritism in the award of a public contract in National Education.
800,000 workstations to be equipped
The complaint is based in part on information disclosed by the chained Duck in an article published on September 9, 2020 in which he pointed to a call for tenders in the amount of 8.3 million euros launched by the Ministries of National Education and Higher Education. This contract concerned the equipment of 800,000 workstations “in Microsoft license“.
At the time, the National Free Software Council (CNLL) – which represents nearly 300 companies specialized or with a significant activity in free software and in open digital – had already alerted on this call for tenders. “The State prefers to pay rents to Microsoft rather than turn to French companies perfectly capable of providing them with the services requested and which do not practice tax optimization“, reacted François Aubriot, member of the CNLL board of directors and head of the “public procurement” monitoring unit.
“The procedure of this call for tenders questions“, argues Anticor. This one seems “have been built for the exclusive benefit of the American company“. However, she notes, French free software companies offer “solutions with equivalent functionality and performance“.
In detail, the public market was titled “the grant of the right to use on a non-exclusive basis, in perpetual mode or in rental mode, Microsoft solutions and associated services“. An illegal procedure, according to Anticor which indicates that the public order code prohibits referring “to a brand or a patent when it is likely to favor or eliminate certain operators“. She adds that the education code encourages “the public service to use free software for its users“.
A dangerous business relationship
Anticor alert on “a dangerous commercial relationship between a French administration and a digital giant enjoying an almost absolute monopoly“. She had also filed a complaint with the PNF for the allegedly “illegal” attribution of the hosting of the Health Data Hub, this database which stores the medical information of the French. Since then, the government has promised to launch a new call for tenders to find a buyer.
The National Commission for Computing and Liberties (Cnil) had positioned itself in favor of French or European solutions in the higher education and research sector. It recalled that the use of software marketed by American companies posed a risk of transferring data, sometimes sensitive, to the United States.