Earlier this year the UK Government Cabinet Office published what I thought was a rather good set of proposals for the role of open standards in government IT. They describe it as a “formal public consultation on the definition and mandation of open standards for software interoperability, data and document formats in government IT.” There are naturally points where we have critical comments but the direction of travel is broadly one that CETIS supports. The topic of mandation is, however, one to be approached with a great deal of caution in our view.
Our full response, which should be read alongside the consultation document (which includes the questions), is available for your information.
The consultation has now been extended to June 4th 2012 following the revelation of a conflict of interest; the chair of a public consultation meeting in April was found to be also working for Microsoft. This is the latest in a long series of concerns about Microsoft lobbying reported in Computer Weekly and elsewhere. I am actually encouraged by the Cabinet Office response both to FoI requests linked to meetings with Microsoft and to this recent revelation; they do seem to be trying to do the right thing.