“Why Do 34,000 Brazilian Beancounters Need 44,000 Copies of Microsoft Office?”

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When a new terminology law goes into effect shortly, products with foreign-language brand names while have to have to include the Portuguese equivalent in their labeling. Microsoft Gabinete? Micromanso Escritório?

Technicians in the external controls division of the TCU have already pointed out 11 irregularities in the procurement process, among them: Lack of a well-founded justification for an exceptional software purchase; the acquisition of 44,000 licenses when the tax authority has only 33,686 work stations in all of Brazil; an order by the tax authority itself that indicates the use of free software, and the undue requirement on the procurement order that the winning supplier be a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

“This auction constitutes the choice of a product with an acquisition cost of up to R$41 million over another product whose acquistion cost is zero.”

Receita Federal deve manter suspenso pregão milionário de software (Última Instância, Brazil): A $23 million procurement order by the Brazilian government, involving 44,000 user licenses for Microsoft Office 2007, remains suspended.

Microsoft’s efforts to hang onto, and expand its presence in, the public sector market — and the tactics used — ought to be worth a book someday.

I am looking at the third page of search results in Google News Brasil on the search string “Microsoft Office.” Eight of them are redundant product launch announcements — that is to say, bug-fix release announcements. One concerns a job opening requiring Microsoft Office skills. The other:

Dutch government wants to adopt the Open Document Format as an official standard, but Microsoft lobbies hard against it

Now here is an interesting debate: The federal accounting tribunal wants to know why it is necessary for the federal government to continue to use Microsoft Office.

This after “an anonymous citizen” questions whether it is really economical to do so, rather than using a FLOSS equivalent.

SoftwareLivre.org publishes a text laying out what seem to be the same set of questions.

The federal tax authority tries to explain.

MPF (Ministério Público Federal) em São Paulo recomendou ao secretário da Receita Federal do Brasil que a Receita mantenha suspenso o andamento Pregão Presencial RFB/COPOL nº 19/2007 para a aquisição de um lote de 44.087 licenças do programa Microsoft Office 2007, orçadas em R$ 40.898.480,00, até que o Tribunal de Contas da União conclua o processo t [sic], de exame do pregão.

The Federal Public Ministry in São Paulo recommended to the federal tax authority that it maintain suspended Auction No. RFB/COPOL No. 19/2008 for the acquisition of 44,087 user licenses for Microsoft Office 2007, budgeted for R$40,898,480, until the federal accounting tribunal (TCU) concludes is analysis of the auction.

Após o caso ser tornado público, o pregão foi suspenso pela Receita em agosto, por tempo indeterminado, mas o MPF apurou que a Receita poderá retomá-lo com alterações no edital. Em resposta ao TCU (Tribunal de Contas da União), a Receita emitiu nota técnica no último dia 27 de novembro, na qual mantém a intenção de realizar o certame para aquisição das licenças. E para isso apresenta, nesse documento, defesa minuciosa acerca da necessidade de continuar utilizando o MS Office como ferramenta.

After the case was made public, the auction was suspended by the tax authority in August, for an indeterminate period, but the MPF found that the tax authority could resume it after amending the terms of the contract. In response to the TCU, the tax authority issued a technical note November 27 in which it states its intention to continue to realize the auction and obtain the user licenses. It presents, in this document, a detailed defense of continuing to use MS Office as a work tool.

I bet they are argued that other spreadsheets are just not up to the level of Excel yet. I kind of tend toward conceding that point, based on my conversations with the Dostoevskian Russian Wall Street Database Analyst I once knew, who would tend to say things like, “I wish somebody would come up with something better, but no one has yet.”

I am just out and out guessing, though. Where is that detailed defense? I would be very interested in reading it.

Na mesma nota técnica, a Receita afirma ao TCU: “um relançamento (do edital) poderia acontecer ou não, com alteração ou não, dependendo das decisões técnicas e políticas superiores”.

In the same technical note, the tax authority tells the TCU: “A reissue of the bid solicitation could happen or not, with amendments or not, depending on technical rulings and higher government policies.”

A apuração do MPF sobre o pregão começou após uma denúncia anônima, em que um cidadão questionava a utilidade e a economicidade do pregão. A Coordenadoria de Informática do MPF-SP foi consultada e deu um parecer técnico no qual afirmou que a Receita pode abrir mão da compra em troca de softwares livres com as mesmas características.

The MPF’s examination of the auction began after an anonymous citizen questioned the usefulness and economic rationale for the auction. The MFP-SP’s IT group was consulted and issued a technical opinion in which it stated that the tax authority could use free software with the same characteristics instead.
Specifically, the BR-Office software, an offshoot of Open Office.

Outros pontos levantados pelo MPF é que o pregão da Receita para a compra de software de código fechado contraria recomendação do Governo Federal para a adoção de softwares de código aberto (livre). Na apuração, o MPF descobriu a apuração do TCU que, até o momento, considera que o pregão fere o princípio da economicidade, uma vez que “se trata de escolha entre um produto com custo de aquisição orçado em R$ 40.898.480,00 frente a outro produto cujo custo de aquisição é nulo”.

Another point raised by the MPF is that the tax authority auction for the purchase of proprietary software goes against the recommendation of the Federal Government to adopt open-source (free) software. In its examination of the case, the MPF ran across the TCU’s evaluation, which, to date, still considers that the auction is contrary to the principle of [cost-savings], given that “it constitutes the choice of a product with an acquisition cost of up to R$41 million over another product whose acquistion cost is zero.”

A 2ª Diretoria Técnica da 2ª Secretaria de Controle Externo do TCU já indicou 11 irregularidades no edital, dentre as quais: ausência de justificativa fundamentada para a compra excepcional de softwares; a aquisição de 44 mil licenças, sendo que a Receita, em todo o Brasil, possui somente 33.686 estações de trabalho; portaria da própria Receita que indica o uso de software livre e a exigência indevida no edital de que o licitante seja uma revenda que possua o certificado Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

Technicians in the external controls division of the TCU have already pointed out 11 irregularities in the procurement process, among them: Lack of a well-founded justification for an exceptional software purchase; the acquisition of 44,000 licenses when the tax authority has only 33,686 work stations in all of Brazil; an order by the tax authority itself that indicates the use of free software, and the undue requirement on the procurement order that the winning supplier be a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

Na recomendação, o MPF, além de entender que o Pregão deve permanecer suspenso, também sugere que a Receita não avance no pregão sem comunicação prévia 30 dias antes de qualquer nova etapa do certame e que a autarquia responda à recomendação em dez dias, a contar da data do recebimento.

In its recommendation, the MPF, besides finding that the auction should not proceed, also suggests that the tax authority not proceed with the auction without 30 day prior notice of any new stage in the process, and that the agency respond to its recommendation within ten days of receiving it.

Microsoft built the tax authority some kind of Java-powered contraption called Receitanet which I have been meaning to study up on.

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