Response toward Villeurbanne's city request for public-market proposals concerning the migration of computer stations to Microsoft software

The city of Villeurbanne recently put out a request for public-market proposals concerning the migration of computer stations to Microsoft software Windows Seven and MS Office 2010). This call for tender is problematic, since it requires a single proprietary solution and de facto excludes Free Software. April's members from the region have written to the mayor of Villeurbanne, to the general councilors, and to the municipal councilors to denounce the noncompliance with the principals of public procurement. For more information on IT public procurement, you can see our dossier.

The members' letter:

Ladies and gentlemen,

General and municipal councilors,

Mayor Bret,

City of Villeurbanne,

Villeurbanne, the 31st of January

Subject: reaction to the city of Villeurbanne's call for tender 179988

Subject of the call for tender: "The objective of the project 'Connexions !' consists in migrating the city of Villeurbanne's computer stations over to Microsoft Windows 7 and MS Office 2010."

Ladies and gentlemen members of the municipal counsel of Villeurbanne,

We would like to react to the publication of your call for tender, since the latter's noncompliance with competition rules makes it unlawful. Indeed, the call explicitly stipulates a brand and specific products.

By authorizing this move, you are violating the ethics of public procurement's calls for tender, since alternatives to the aforementioned products exist: Free Software programs.

Villeurbanne's successively elected municipal teams have always defended common goods. It is up to you to pursue the development of this wealth, by supporting Free Software, which is a part of these common goods.

Free Software is a useful participant in digital development, and its use in large French administrations has demonstrated its maturity. It is now up to communities to make use of it, in order to take advantage of economies of scale and to pool both investments and profits. This new knowledge will easily be shareable by all member of your local and regional authorities.

There are important advantages to be gained from migrating to Free Software:

  • Saving on licensing: Free Software developers don't get remunerated by selling licenses. You are therefore not paying for software that's already been payed off several times. The savings thus made can be reinvested in the solicitation of bids for services and for user training. The budget that you invest will no longer serve to feed the annuity of an international company with strong fiscal optimization.
  • Developing local jobs: by earmarking spending towards service and software improvement, rather than towards recurring spending, you are supporting local jobs.
  • Bridging the digital divide: open formats allow you to exchange documents with your citizens without imposing on them the cost of your software. Your administration will thus improve the service it's rendering to the general public.
  • Low consumption of resources: Free Software extends computer lifespan, thus offering a better return on investment.
  • Social implication of the principals: Free Software favors the mutualization of all developments with other communities and associations. Thus a software expense becomes a real investment for the future, contrary to the ancient IT paradigm.
  • Innovation: the evolution of a Free Software program is not decided by one software provider, but by an entire community. This mode of participative development energizes innovation, since each user can contribute his or her ideas, by taking responsibility for the tasks to be completed.

As demonstrated by the Ayrault circular and the statement of our minister of innovation and digital economy on the importance of Free Software in the economic revitalization and the modernization of the state. Free Software allows for the weaving of the new economic ties our country needs.

You must have understood that we are not dealing with a problem that is merely technical, a technocrats' matter, but in fact with a political choice concerning the city and the model of the society we want to build.

In the desire to pursue this discussion with you, we request a meeting to explore this matter further. We can come with members of local associations and Free Software economic players.

We look forward to receiving your response, ladies and gentlemen, and wish you a happy 2013.