Italian Government criticized by the Free Software Association

By EDRi · June 6, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

After filing a case to the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio
against the Italian Ministry of Work for launching a call for tenders
where only Microsoft software was considered as eligible, Italian NGO Assoli
(Associazione Software Libero) is criticizing again its Government.

The problem arose when the Government – specifically the Ministry for
University and Research, headed by Mr.Fabio Mussi (Left democrats) and the
Ministry for Innovation in the Public Administration,
headed by Mr. Luigi Nicolais (Left democrats) – announced
an official agreement with Microsoft Italia whose main goals are
“education/training, technology transfer and facilitation of research

AsSoLi publicly objected to the agreement by which Microsoft
commits to invest only 737,000 euros – 0.0007% of the total turnover of
the company for 2006, according to AsSoLi’s calculations – in three
years, to be subdivided among three research centres. Moreover,
AsSoLi notices that, according to the agreement, the investment will
not take the form of cash, but will rather be performed “through (the
work of) third parties, on the basis of specific needs for hardware
products, software, technical support services and training
activities”. On the other hand, continues AsSoLi, the agreement does
not specify what would be the financial burden for the Italian Public

In reaction to what it considered a waste of public money, AsSoLi
officially committed to make available to the Italian Government, for
a period of five years, training activities, training material,
technological solutions and software, either directly or delegating
Italian companies specialised in Free Software, for a value of
about 10.000.000 euros per year – a total value of 50.000.000 euros. AsSoLi
stresses the fact that their offer is absolutely serious.

Moreover, AsSoLi conducted a study on the Microsoft Research Center
located in Trento (Northern Italy). According to the study, Microsoft
invested only 250.000 euros in research activities on their own
products, with the Italian Public Administration paying more than
1.800.000 euros. The study was sent to hundreds of representatives of
national and local institutions. AsSoLi also announced the forthcoming
release of a second study, providing a more thorough assessment of the
financial elements in the first analysis.

The Italian Government, through its spokesman Mr. Alfonso Lelio, has
recently answered AsSoLi’s criticisms, stressing that the agreement
with Microsoft does not mean that the Government is not interested in
investing in Free Software, or is not already doing so, as the
Government claims is the case with the latest budget law, where 10.000.000
euros for 2007-2009 are allocated to “Information Society” projects, with an
explicit priority to those that “develop or use” Free Software.

AsSoLi – Associazione Software Libero

EDRI-Gram 5.7, “Free software needs to be considered in Italian
public acquisitions” (12.04.2007)

AsSoLi offers EUR 10,000,000 to the Italian Government (Italian only,

Text of the proposed agreement with the Italian Government (Italian only,

Study by AsSoLi on the Microsoft Research Center in Trento (Italian only,

Answer of the Italian Government to AsSoLi’s criticisms (Italian only,

(contribution by Andrea Glorioso – Italian consultant on digital policies)