There’s no date on his introductory post, but Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, has provided an opportunity for us to state which open standards for IT we want the UK government to use. This takes the form of an on-line SurveyMonkey survey that is open until 20 May 2011.
Government must be better connected to the people it serves and partners who can work with it – especially small businesses, voluntary and community organisations. Government ICT must play a fundamental role in making life easier and I want to ensure that it does.
One of our first goals is to organise Government data and systems using an agreed set of standards that make our ICT more open, cheaper and better connected.
If you’re a business or community organisation, helping us choose the right standards will make it easier for you to do business with Government. It will also help us open up data, better informing your decisions, and hopefully prompting innovation.
There’s a lot of detail in the very long list of obtuse standard numbers, but fortunately a mechanism is provided to skip sections you aren’t interested in. Otherwise you can vote on each standard on a scale between mandatory and don’t use. Refreshingly for a survey, there are spaces for you to add your own thoughts (though you can’t add each on a new line as requested).
I spotted couple of typos and more seriously, the Microsoft originated ISO/IEC 29500 Office Open XML is incorrectly called ‘Open Office XML. This is bound to lead to confusion as the alternatively listed ISO/IEC 26300:2006 Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) standard was originally implemented in OpenOffice (and is now implemented by LibreOffice).
Open standards play well with open source software developement and we encourage you to take the survey. However do bear in mind the government’s past record in implementing open technology policies. You might also want to look at Glyn Moody’s related post about the Government’s definition of open standards provided in the procurement policy note.