The European Commission (EC) is reviewing its open source strategy following continued pressure from MEPs to justify its ongoing expenditure on proprietary software.
The revelation was made as the EC prepares to renew a controversial €48.9m contract with Fujitsu for Microsoft software on at least 36,000 PCs operated by the Commission and other official European bodies.
The Commission said in an answer to a question put by the European Parliament, "For nearly 10 years the Commission published at regular intervals its strategy for the internal use of OSS [open source software]. The Commission is now reviewing the current version of its strategy document, which will be re-published once it is updated."
The review would have implications for IT procurement, it said.
Marisa Matias, Portuguese member of the European United and Nordic Green Left, asked on 27 September what steps the Commission was taking to ensure the administration "moves over to using free software whenever possible".
The EC Open Source strategy requires open source software to be used "where clear benefit can be expected". The EU's Inter-Institutional IT Committee concluded in 2005 that the Commission's adoption of open source software could not be justified by its costs and benefits. The Commission Directorate of Information and Media came to a similar conclusion in a study published in 2006.
But the EC stated after signing the Fujitsu contract in 2008 that its IT purchasing decisions were not simply a technological matter. It was "a means to achieve its political, economic and social mandate," it said.
The Commission has to decide by 28 February 2011 whether to renew for another year its contract to source Microsoft software with Fujitsu. MEPs claimed EU procurement laws should have disallowed the contract, which entered into force within days of the EC fining Microsoft €640m in 2008.
EC rules allow companies guilty of "grave professional misconduct" to be excluded from the public tenders of member states only if challenges are made during tenders. But the rules only apply to member states and not European institutions, the EC said in 2008 after the Fujitsu contract was let.