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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Case May Delay Census Information

The long-delayed census is finally to be held in October, but it seems the government may have to put up with another delay before it can use the data.

The Moscow Arbitration Court on Friday canceled the results of a tender the State Statistics Committee held earlier this year to choose a company to supply the software for processing the census data.

A two-stage tender was held from Jan. 22 until Feb. 11, and four Russian software companies applied to participate: ABBYY Software House, Croc Inc., Intellektualniye Sistemy and Step Logic. During the first stage, the State Statistics Committee was to determine which applicants met the technical requirements and during the second stage to judge the companies' bids.

Croc was the only company to clear the first stage and consequently won the right to provide the software, which makes it possible to scan information from the paper questionnaires and automatically put it into a database.

ABBYY Software House appealed the decision to the arbitration court on April 16, saying it was unfair and violated the legislation on tender procedures by government agencies.

"The tender was held without an alternative with only one company having been chosen for the final stage," said Aram Pakchanyan, ABBYY's vice president. "The decision resulted in the government spending more of the country's taxpayers' money."

ABBYY's bid was significantly lower than the 51.5 million rubles Croc bid, he said.

The State Statistics Committee defended its decision.

"Unfortunately, the legislation on such tenders is not perfect and allows for some interpretation of certain decisions," said Sergei Kolesnikov, deputy chairman of the committee.

Kolesnikov said the regulations require companies involved in processing confidential information to have a license for this. "Croc had such licenses and ABBYY didn't. This is why the latter's bid was not considered," he said in a written statement.

Pakchanyan argued that ABBYY does not develop information systems for dealing with confidential information, but the company had a subcontractor, information systems integrator IT Co., which has a license for secure processing of confidential information.

The census data was supposed to have been processed within 100 days of the census, but the court's decision may cause a delay, Kolesnikov said, adding that the committee would appeal the court's decision.

Croc also said it would file an appeal. "Croc can't be held responsible for the violations the committee made when following the subtle legal points," said Andrei Shain, a spokesman for Croc.

The company, which signed a contract March 22, has completed much of the work, and it was unlikely another company could provide the necessary software in time, Shain said.

The census, to be held Oct. 9 to 16, will show the structure of the population, socially, economically and demographically. It is intended to serve as the basis for government planning and to help define policies in many areas, including pension reform, housing, education and employment, and also to provide a database for research.

The last census held in Russia was in 1989 before the collapse of Soviet Union.