[LINK] Microsoft defends Government 2.0 Taskforce funding conditions

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Wed Oct 7 08:55:45 AEDT 2009

Microsoft defends Government 2.0 Taskforce funding conditions
Projects applying for $2.45m in funding must sign on as Microsoft 
Tim Lohman
06 October, 2009 12:18

Microsoft has defended its decision to enforce stringent conditions on 
up to $2.45 million in funding which it plans to supply to support 
proposed projects under the Government 2.0 Taskforce initiative.

The conditions, detailed in its , have raised the ire of participants in 
the Government 2.0 Taskforce project and include the ability for 
Microsoft to demand contractors provide specific training to staff at 
the contractors’ expense, that contractors fire and replace specific 
staff at Microsoft’s request, and that Microsoft itself can fire 
participants in the Gov 2.0 taskforce scheme.

As Microsoft was providing the funds, it was a legal requirement that 
suppliers commissioned by the Taskforce enter into a contract with 
Microsoft, a spokesperson for the company said.

“The Services Agreement and Operational Deed were discussed and agreed 
between Microsoft and the Secretariat of the Government 2.0 Taskforce,” 
the spokesperson said. “The Services Agreement is a standard form 
template that contains terms and conditions that are common in 
commercial contracts. That said, in relation to any successful 
contractor, Microsoft is open to amending the Services Agreement to 
ensure the projects they have been selected to provide can be delivered.”

According to the spokesperson, Microsoft has publicly stated that the 
only conditions it required of such amendments were that they did not 
negatively impact the integrity of Microsoft’s relationship to the 
Taskforce, that the intellectual property (IP) created in the project be 
assigned or licensed to the Commonwealth and that Microsoft’s 
shareholders were not exposed to additional financial or reputational risk.

The conditions imposed by Microsoft have raised several issues among 
those participating in the Taskforce project, many of which have been 
discussed on the project’s homepage.

Commenting in a blog post on the issue, James Purser from Collaborynth, 
a collaboration and LocGov2.0 consultancy participating in the project, 
argued that participants did not expect to have to sign on as a 
contractor to Microsoft.

“For myself, the biggest issues relate to the IP and ability of 
Microsoft to dictate how a project is to be conducted, down the to the 
fact that Microsoft has the ability to both demand the signee to replace 
employees on the project without recourse (employees being a major issue 
for community projects who don't tend to have employees),” the post reads.

“With regards to the IP of any project, it doesn't seem to allow for 
Open Source licensing at all. Rather seeking to invest all rights to the 
nominated party (in this case the Federal Government). This seems to 
preclude the use of Open Source software, it also seems to affect third 
party projects that may wish to participate.”

Andrew Perry director at Legal Consult, an intellectual property, 
technology and communications practice, posted that the contract needed 
to be reviewed in the context of the open innovation it is intended to 

“As an organisation…we are concerned by a number of the clauses and are 
preparing a list of the ones that we are concerned with that we will, in 
the spirit of openness, post here,” the post reads. “I think this is 
going to be a huge learning experience for all involved, on the road to 


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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