The National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) has questioned the agreement that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has signed with Microsoft Corporation to provide Microsoft accounts. The deal costs the national exchequer $3 million annually which seems unjust to NTC.
In a letter to HEC, NTC stated, “Arrangement [agreement with Microsoft] of HEC at such a high cost of $3 million is duplication/overlapping and loss to public exchequer which is not desirable.” NTC has said that the renewal of the program should be placed on hold until a proposed audit of the utilization of the accounts from the previous 8 years is undertaken. The renewal of the project usually happens around December 15.
NTC says it can provide HEC with a pay-as-you-grow model that will decrease the cost of the overall program as most of the accounts in the current subscription by the HEC are not utilized. The current agreement according to NTC is for 200,000 users (faculty/staff) and students get free subscriptions.
In a reply to Dawn, HEC stated, “HEC does not have 200,000 licenses, utilization is higher than the number of paid MS licenses, and there is no duplication/overlap in our Microsoft agreement.”
HEC added, “We believe that our MS licensing agreement has extremely competitive pricing terms. In addition, our partnership with Microsoft under the Education Transformation Framework Agreement has benefited both students and faculty through capacity building, skill certification, outreach campaigns and the annual Imagine Cup competition.”
HEC also stated that they have contacted NTC multiple times to provide them with a plan to shift to their services however they did not receive an actionable response and suspending their services at the moment would be a very bad decision. Moreover, the country has seen an increase in the utilization of MS teams accounts due to the COVID-19 situation justifying the current contract.
Image Source: NTC