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How not to negotiate a software contractMatthew Aslett, July 10, 2008 @ 6:53 am ET
This is somewhat off-topic and also a personal bug-bear of mine but I hope you will forgive me as it does relate to open source and, in particular, the puzzling problem of source’s inability to make headway in UK schools.
The Inquirer is reporting that Becta, the UK government agency responsible for technology in the education system, has declined a Freedom of Information request for details of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that gives schools discounted pricing for Microsoft software.
The grounds for its refusal are as follows:
I’m not going to comment on the legal reasons given but the subject of Becta’s negotiating position is worth considering. As Glyn Moody eloquently points out in his call for Becta’s abolition, Becta’s position could hardly be any weaker.
“Has it ever occurred to them that if they started negotiating from a position of dignity and strength, rather than abject, supine servitude, they might just possibly do their job a teensy-weensy bit better?” he asks.
It is worth repeating some of the history to understand how Glyn has come to this conclusion. Here’s the facts:
The phrase, as Glyn puts it, is “snatch[ing] defeat from the jaws of victory.” The problem is that despite Becta’s apparently strong hand, the signing of a new MOU was in reality never in doubt. That’s not exactly a strong negotiating position.
I am sure the MOU delivers good discounts for UK schools but the question is whether those discounts would be greater were the signing of a new MOU not all-but guaranteed. Additionally, as The Open Sourcerer asks, as UK tax payers, are we not entitled to know what those discounts are and how much is being spent?
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