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March 9, 1988

HOT GOSSIP IN LONDON AS EEC ORDERS OPEN SYSTEM INTERCONNECTION IN PUBLIC CONTRACTS…

By CBR Staff Writer

Public authorities are – or should be – busy gearing up to comply with legislation recently passed by the European Commission that makes illegal the procurement of computer equipment that is not compatible with the Open Systems Interconnection standards. The directive, which was made Community law in February, makes Open Systems procurement mandatory for any public sector contract worth more than 100,000 European Currency Units, or UKP71,000 in sterling. But a UK government official said that this threshold is likely to be removed in the future so that the ruling will apply to all public sector contracts. Contravention of this law could land the offender in court, and the official pointed out that an unsuccessful tenderer has every right to challenge the winning supplier in court on the grounds of non-compliance with the standards: any implementation would be then put on ice until the legal proceedings had been cleared. In the UK, the government’s Central Computer & Telcommunications Agency has been preparing a profile of Open Systems Interconnection for practical implementation purposes, and has just completed it to coincide with the legislation. Called Gosip, for Government OSI Profile, the specification recommends a stack of protocols, which are effectively a vertical slice across the OSI seven layer model. The Agency has been working on Gosip for the past 18 months and says it now has the support of all the major computer systems suppliers. A major problem for the CCTA in its work has been the lack of available higher level Open Systems products such as X.400 messaging and graphics on the market, and this scarcity places an obstacle in the way of legislation. But the CCTA said that all major suppliers are expected to have shipped OSI products by year-end, although some are slower than others. Meanwhile a loophole in the EEC law lets public authorities off the hook if there are no Open Systems Interconnectionb products available.

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