The Court of Account's Council for Corruption Prevention is making a mandatory survey on corruption risks in public procurement (in portuguese), which all public administrators must reply, by law. However, not only the survey is available only in Microsoft's binary format, but they also demand that it is returned in Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007's XML format (MS-OOXML).
«In order to be answered, you have to be a client of Microsoft, as by article 9 of law 54/2008, there is a "duty of cooperation" which means that the survey must be answered, says Rui Seabra, vice-president of the board of ANSOL, in the association's blog.
The survey aims to be a guide for evaluation of the risks in the area of public procurement and granting public benefits, so Rui wonders «why a Council for Corruption Prevention is benefiting Microsoft.»
A reply to a citizen's email who questioned this practice was found to be extremely revealing: it's all about vendor lock-in. An extensive analysis (in portuguese) details many technical misconsiderations made by the Account's Court, some of them quite unreasonable:
- that Microsoft's binary and XML formats are open standards
- considers Microsoft's OSP an acceptable software license
- that since they use Microsoft, others must use Microsoft
- OpenDocument Format is used by a small number of people (perhaps the state should not have wheelchair ramps since wheelchairs are used by a small number of people), and would require installing third party software
The reply actually tries to turn the third item into the worse problem, and avoids the matter of granting an exclusive benefit to Microsoft, which would go directly against the objectives of the survey.