History of an Ialian Scandal #3
WARNING: this is an open post, a post in progress. Any additional information provided by the readers and any correction provided by the mentioned companies is welcome and will be included.
Previous episodes: Storia di uno scandalo italiano #1: gli albori, Storia di uno scandalo italiano #2: bandi, appalti, leggi e prenotazioni
In the last episode we were in July 2005: Innovazione Italia Spa – the company controlled by the government to whom was committed the management of 20 million euro for the development of the italia.it platform – wins the competitive bidding promoted by itself some months before.
We remind our redears that the bidding included, besides other stuff, the realisation of a booking online platform in ASP (in other words, a national centralised system for tourism reservations) and it also stated that the global platform should have been online after three months (october 2005).
We also want to remind our readers the names of people heading Innovazione Italia at that time: Roberto Falavolti, Chief Executive, and Andrea Mancinelli, Managing Director – who was also Minister Stanca right-hand man: he also had the role of Minister’s Cabinet Head (as you can tell from the Minister’s organization chart at that time)
A temporary firms association formed by IBM Spa (head) together with I.T.S. Spa and Tiscover AG (participants) won the competitive bidding, which amounted to 9,6 million euro (IVA included).
It’s now about time to arrange a little bit the information we have about these three companies.
IBM Italia Spa
web site: http://www.ibm.com/it/ President: Andrea Pontremoli
IBM, for what we can understand, should have provided to the system IT core, through its product IBM WebSphere – in other words, a maxi multiplatform package for e-business.
Also, IBM should have realised, together with Tiscover, the famous ASP booking platform, which was, from the first Stanca’s Italia.it, one of the most important things (requested by the call for tender: “Realisation of the National Portal for Tourism Italia.it ICT infrastructure (…)”, ASP booking platform included) that mysteriously disappeared shortly after.
About the IBM winning there’s not much to say: it’s the Italian branch of one of the biggest IT companies of the world, so it’s a company of high quality, no doubts.
But we cannot avoid to underline a macroscopic information, which is public: the Ex-Minister for Innovation Lucio Stanca, the man who strongly wanted and financed the Italia.it operation with 45 million euro (even if he asked for 90 million), entered in IBM in 1968 and got out as President in March 2001 (official biography from the site of the disappeared Minister for Innovation).
Conflitto d’interessi? Yes, no, maybe: at the end of it all it’s not important since there’s not ethic consideration about conflitto d’interessi in Italy.
Many people think that IBM would have had very good chances to win the bidding even if Werpuqqixxian Inc. Incorporated, the famous Alpha-Centauri company that has a extra-terrestrial and far superior e-business technology would have taken part In it.
Eventually, a little snippet for those who love behind the scenes tidbits.
Readytec, a software solutions society, is a strict IBM commercial partner: it also has, beside its own web site, a micro-site inside IBM Italia web site.
At the end of January 2004, Readytec launches on the market “Booking on line” (scheda software from IBM site), the software side of a booking platform in ASP “the natural completion of institutional static sites, tourism portals or accommodation facilities chains” which, for what concerns IT, it clearly relies on IBM.
One month later, at the beginning of March 2004, Lucio Stanca starts the Italia.it operation up, which will have, among its most important qualifications, the realization of a booking platform in ASP.
Web Site Tiscover italia: http://www.tiscover.it/ Board of directors: Konrad Plankensteiner e Bruno Walter
Tiscover is an Austrian company specialized in the realization of tourism portals: it develops tourism portals with the Tiscover brand but also for third parties (as in the case of Italia.it, or the national Scottish tourism portal, or the regional tourism portal of Trentino Alto Adige: this one cost 650.000 € each year plus various expenses, apparently without big benefits as the regional councilor Mauro Delladio of Forza Italia wrote in 2004) providing its know-how about Destination Management Systems – DMS (read here to know more about it).
Now, it’s clear that Tiscover should have provided Italia.it with management modules for that which concerned the destinations and the booking online service: that’s what the call for tender contemplated, but it was not carried out.
The most interesting thing for us, that are not used to huge businesses, is the following.
Tiscover core business, the reason for which was born, is the realization and management of its own tourism portal, carrying its brand (for the complete list check over here on the sidebar on the left). In 2003 Tiscover realizes for Italy a tourism portal with its brand. In 2005 takes part to the competitive bidding for the national tourism portal which asked clearly for a “nationalized” online booking system. In other words, Tiscover offers to realize a portal that will potentially become its biggest competitor on the Italian tourism market. Conflict of interest? Yes, no, maybe. Has it been wise to let the biggest portal’s competitor win the bidding for the realization of the portal? We’d say the answer is “no”.
Web site: http://www.its.na.it – President: Pietro Altieri
Its is a technological society in Naples.
What’s its work? Let’s let talk the mission section on the web site:
Information Technology Services S.p.A., a technological centre of international level, works in the field of Information & Communication Technology, planning and realising informative systems and solutions that integrate information, telecommunicaition and multimedia technologies.
Founded in Naples in 1994, the society has become, for sales and number of employees, one of the most important group in the national IT scenery, playing along with the principal actors in the Italian market of telecommunications.
Uhm, a little vague. We can find some better information on the organization page.
operative competence areas:
*Custom Systems or Internet or Space * Nets or System for TLC operators (OSS and VAS) or Telephone Systems * Systems for vocal applications * Facility management and Outsourcing * Multimedia or TV or Graphics, digital audio and video or formazione.
Basically, technological stuff. On the content side: tv, grafica, video, audio.
But: what exactly was ITS job for Italia.it?
We can find the answer to this question on http://www.denaro.it, an economic review of Regiona Campania which has various extensions and which is very close to Altieri: if you look for “Pietro Altieri” on the denaro.it search engine you’ll get plenty of results; besides, Denaro Group and Altieri’s ITS work “in synergy” to realise the satellite channel Denaro TV. This just to say that denaro.it is a precious and trustworthy source for Altieri and ITS.
A small oddity: denaro.it informs us also about where the Italia.it editorial staff is placed: it is in Naples, “at the ITS Fuorigrotta office”.
Let’s go back to the question: what was ITS supposed to do for Italia.it?
ITS worked on the texts and images elaboration and on the journalistic part of the portal. (source denaro.it, 02/23/2007)
Texts elaboration? Journalistic part? Doesn’t ITS say about itself that it works on software, technogical solutions, graphics and video?
By what right was this society chosen to carry out work for which it is not specialized?
To dispel every doubt we took a look on ITS case history and, to be honest, we found a previous similar commission: the realisation of the Regione Campania tourism portal, for which ITS arranged the Editorial managing of the Portal (…) based on the model of an on line editorial staff”.
If you take a little surfing on this portal, I think you’ll realize that we’re not talking about a first quality product. En passant, we would like to emphasize that the editorial vicedirector of Italia.it and the Regione Campania Portal’s Manager are the same person.
Let’s summarize: Innovazione Italia Spa, at the moment of the competitive bidding, chose ITS for the journalistic content and for the text drafting, something in which the company was not specialized, something that ITS did just in one occasion and we may say it did not shine for the result it produced.
Was it a good choice? The outcomes tell us: no.
Now, a small special effect: to whom does ITS belong?
To Pietro Altieri, we already said that. Here’s a little Altieri’s biography, we took it from an historical left-wing review of the Region, La Voce della Campania, that does not seem to love him that much.
Ex Italsider, then passed to the IT startup Datitalia, a subsidiary controlled by Banco di Napoli, at the end of the eighties Altieri founded a small but tough company empire in the field of TLC subcontracting, almost always in the shade of the public sector (…) From a few of computers in the family to the conquer of the universe. It is not the last spaceman odissey but the irresistible escalation of an ex Bagnoli Italsider grey helmet, Pietro Altieri. His language is not the “torrese” anymore (his group was helded in Torre del Greco) but the American English of New York, for all of those “Digital factory” and “Digital Academy” he always had to do with.
Let’s go back to the subject. ITS is his. Completely?
No. Not completely.
30% of ITS is…fix yourself a stiff drink…Sviluppo Italia’s!
Yes! It’s them! Our heroes! The group financed with our money that should help the development of the country and, instead, we don’t know at all what it does! (scandaloitaliano, Report)
The same group that controls Innovazione Italia Spa, a public company as well, which had the commission from Minister Lucio Stanca to manage the competitive bidding for Italia.it (20 million of our euros) and assigned it, among others, to ITS Spa, owning the 30% of it…
Conflict of interest? Noooooo.
(At this point let’s give to Caesar what is Caesar’s: all of this fantastic world of Spa companies that are public institutions financed with our money – we remind you that Sviluppo Italia consists of something like 28 undercompanies all devoted to the purpose of developing the country and all hungry of public money! – it was made up, wanted and realized from last Government, Berlusconi’s. On the other hand, Prodi’s Government seems to accept the situation).
11th of April 2002: “Sviluppo Italia joins ITS Group”. Read the article because it is worth it.
Sviluppo Italia acquires 30% of ITS: in other words it means that moves a big quantity of money from our pockets to ITS pockets. How much? We don’t know. In the article they talk about of 6 million euro investments, but it’s hard to say to what they pertain to. It’s also said that after five years Sviluppo Italia has to get out of the group: will we have our money back? Who knows? We’re waiting for some clarifications.
Sviluppo Italia, through its controlled Innovazione Italia, transfers some more public money in ITS pockets for the realization of part of the Portal Italia.it (editorial and journalistic contents).
How much? From unofficial sources, but quite inside the all thing, we know: 1.4 million euro – we don’t know if IVA is included – over a total of 9.6 million euro including IVA (7.8 without IVA).
Is it a lot? Is it a few? We’d say that, for sure, two billion and eighthundred million liras is a large amount of money for some textual contents. We should analise well Italia.it to quantify editorial and journalistic materials produced by ITS, considering that most of them were bought blindly from external suppliers (Istituto Geografico De Agostini, ViaMichelin – Guida Verde, Divitech, Il Meteo), as we can read on the legal notes on the portal. We cannot know at what price and with which money they were bought (from ITS, so this money is in its budget? From Sviluppo Italia so it figures in another budget?)
We are waiting for ITS and Sviluppo Italia Spa providing us some explanations.
IBM, Tiscover and ITS, last year, and with half work done, entered into contestation with the client (Innovazione Italia, which means us), the whole project has been replanned and the payments to the companies blocked.
We don’t know the reason of the disagreement. We suspect that it has to do with the fact that the ASP booking platform – that Stanca wanted so much (among the tourism operators’ remonstrations) and that was scheduled in the call for tenders but maybe discarded from the actual government – was not brought about:
“The Portal – Lanzillotta (actual Minister for Regional Affairs – ndr) states -should be focused on the valorization and the knowledge of the products, while for what concerns the booking system there is plenty of other private subjects that operate on the web. We have to create a net among them, lead them, but it would be worthless for the public system trying to run with them for something they can do pretty well.” (20.09.06)
Anyway, IBM should speak in a while about the argument.
READ ALSO:?Sviluppo Italia e Innovazione Italia: quarantacinque milioni di perché
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