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Open Standards Mandatory for Government Departments

Open Standards Mandatory for Government Departments

UK government bodies have been instructed to welcome open standards, following the Cabinet Office's move to officially embrace a new set of guidelines this Thursday. As part of an effort to lower government IT expenditure, the Open Standards Principles have been developed to enable improved interoperability of IT systems throughout the government - whilst ensuring citizens have better accessibility to relevant information and services. And from today, government departments must comply with these principles - unless they choose to apply for exemption. "Government must be better connected to the people it serves and partners who can work with it - especially small businesses, voluntary and community organisations," explained Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude in a statement. "Having open information and software that can be used across government departments will result in lower licensing costs in government IT, and reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products." A public consultation detailed approximately 70 per cent of respondents agreeing that the principles would drive innovation, choice and competition within government IT provision - with the same percentage believing it would help save money. The principles set out include:
  • We place the needs of our users at the heart of our standards choices
  • Our selected open standards will enable suppliers to compete on a level playing field
  • Our standards choices support flexibility and change
  • We adopt open standards that support sustainable cost
  • Our decisions about standards selection are well informed
  • We select open standards using fair and transparent processes
We are fair and transparent in the specification and implementation of open standards Whilst the policy is only applicable to central government bodies, the Cabinet Office confirmed that it would "work to promote the open standards principles for software interoperability, data and document formats with all public bodies in the UK".

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