UK Government Open Standards Consultation – CETIS Response

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.

4 thoughts on “UK Government Open Standards Consultation – CETIS Response

  1. Pingback: Simon Grant of CETIS » Reviewing the future for Leap2

  2. The CETIS response seems very sound to me. Is there a case where mandation could be a useful motivator in getting an existing but outdated standard up to date, moving people to a later version of a standard, or encouraging divergent standards to converge (I am thinking about cases like W3C and WhatWG on HTML5)?

    • Travis – thanks for the comment.

      Yes, I think examples like that do point to some kind of mandate to trigger coordinated action. It is similar to what we styles as “problem-first” in the responses; rather than seeing mandation as a being about a list of approved standards that should be used in procurement/development, see it as being about driving change. I’m also sure there are plenty of cases where there is no business case for standards adoption at an individual unit/agency level but where there is a whole-system benefit. That kind of model of intervention with mandatory requirement strikes me as being more effective than approved lists.

      Cheers, Adam

  3. Pingback: Adam Cooper’s Work Blog » Open Standards Board and the Cabinet Office Standards Hub

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