Open Bar Contract between Microsoft and the French Ministry of Defense: April Calls on Senators to Support a Motion for the Creation of an Investigation Committee

Press release, Octobre 18th, 2017.

On Monday, October 16th, 2017, a few days after renewal of the Microsoft/Defense “Open Bar” agreement had been confirmed for yet another four years, Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, the Secretary for the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee, submitted a “motion for a resolution to create an investigation committee on the framework agreements between the Ministry of Defense and Microsoft”. Ever since October 24th, 2016, when new evidence was brought forth by the TV show Cash Investigation, April has been calling for the creation of such a committee. This French organization, devoted to promoting free software, commends the Senator's salutary motion, and calls on all her colleagues to support it.

Single Article

Pursuant to article 51-2 of the Constitution, to article 6 of ordinance n°58-1100 of November 17th, 1958, regarding the functioning of the parliamentary assemblies, and pursuant to article 11 of the Senate Regulations, a 21-member investigation committee is created, to analyse the conditions in which the framework agreement between the Ministry of Defense and Microsoft was entered into and renewed, and to formulate proposals for strengthening digital sovereignty and cybersecurity in France.

Translation by April

Senator Garriaud-Maylam has authored several written questions about the political soundness and legality of the “Open Bar” agreement between Microsoft and the Defense Ministry (read here for an example). Answers were always vague and had a single and obvious purpose : trying to make sense of an absurde decision.

Digital sovereignty, compliance with public procurement laws, cost of the contract, or tax avoidance; the explanatory statement of the motion recalls the issues and grey areas of the agreement between Microsoft and the Defense. An investigation committee with extended controlling powers — a committee before which nobody can refuse to appear and testify under oath — will at last shed light on the conditions around the signature and renewal of the “Open Bar" agreement, as well as the role of the different stakeholders.

“The Ministry of Defense (also called "La Grande Muette" — The Big Silent One) refuses all acts of transparency and rejects any form of criticism when it comes to its addiction to Microsoft products. The creation of an investigation committee will allow the Parliament to fully play its role of public policies monitor, and help shed light on the secretive and worrisome ties between Microsoft and the French government,” said Frédéric Couchet, the executive director of April.

“We commend the Senator for recalling one of the Parliament's key missions: monitoring Government's actions. We call on all members of the "Les Republicains" political group, and more generally all senators, to support this necessary and salutary motion,” added Étienne Gonnu, in charge of public affairs for April.

For further details, including a brief history of the "Open Bar" agreement, please read this dedicated page (in French).