On Wednesday, Australia's Government 2.0 Taskforce released a draft contract for those receiving money from its Project Fund, which revealed that any funding contracts will be between successful bidders and Microsoft — not the commonwealth.
The Project Fund was used by the taskforce to fund initiatives that will provide input into its final report and to build up government agency "Web 2.0 capabilities". The taskforce has already asked for two rounds of project submissions.
Yet the government has only now revealed that the funding arrangements must be made via Microsoft. It needed to be so because the taskforce was not a legal entity and money was pulled from the Project Fund, according to the government — a partnership with Microsoft that used funds from a special Service Provision Fund.
The taskforce has said on its website that despite Microsoft managing the purse strings of the Project Fund, it will not have a part in deciding which projects are funded. However, the blog post where the announcement about the contracts was made on Wednesday has drawn considerable discussion, particularly on the issue of intellectual property (IP).
Microsoft Australia's head of government and industry affairs, Simon Edwards, looked to quiet some of the IP concerns by posting in Microsoft's Australian Government Affairs blog. "If a contractor creates IP, it will have agreed (in its contract with Microsoft) to assign or licence that IP to the Commonwealth. Microsoft does not share the IP. Microsoft does not own the IP. Microsoft has no rights to the IP," Edwards wrote.
Concerns were also expressed over clauses of the contract draft, which may allow Microsoft to replace an employee with one approved by the software giant, or require employees to undertake compulsory training.
Edwards said Microsoft was happy to look at suggestions to the contract as long as its integrity and risk exposure was maintained.