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New EC policy on procurement of interoperable ICT

23 July 2013

The EC has recently adopted a new policy to help public authorities avoid dependence on a single ICT supplier. The EC has launched a 'Guide for the procurement of standards-based ICT — Elements of Good Practice' accompanied by a Communication 'Against lock-in: building open ICT systems by making better use of standards in public'. UTMC and OCIT, the two open standards and specifications frameworks within the POSSE project, are cited in the guide.

The EC estimates that overcoming vendor lock-in in the area of ICT could save the EU's public sector more than €1.1 billion a year. For example, open tendering procedures can attract increased numbers of bidders with better value bids (doubling the number of bidders typically lowers contract size by 9%).

Working with standards – rather than specifying a single ICT brand, tool, system, or product – when procuring ICT systems saves taxpayers' money. However, the EC believes that many organisations either lack the expertise to decide which standards are relevant to their ICT needs, or fear that the initial costs of change would be too costly and might lead to loss of data. As a result, they remain locked into their ICT systems or into a relationship with only one provider.

The EC guide is intended to help officials responsible for both planning and purchasing ICT systems and services for public organisations. To support public authorities during this transition process, the European Commission will organise meetings with public authorities, ICT supply industry, standards organisations and civil society, where public organisations will learn from each other, adapt to best practices that emerge, look into common problems and suggest common solutions. There will also be a best practice website.

To download the guide and the Communication, visit the following EC webpage.

POSSE project website.