The government has been forced to extend the deadline for its consultation on the use of open standards to improve information sharing within government after a major conflict of interest on the issue came to light.
The Government Digital Service (GDS) explained in a blog post that a roundtable on 4 April was chaired by computing expert Andrew Hopkirk, who has subsequently revealed to have been working as an advisor to Microsoft on the same consultation.
"At the time he was engaged to facilitate the Open Standards roundtable, while we were aware he represented the National Computing Centre on the Microsoft Interoperability Executive Customer Council, he did not declare the fact he was advising Microsoft directly on the Open Standards consultation," it said.
"This could be seen as a clear conflict of interest and should have been declared by the relevant parties at that meeting."
The GDS said it will not follow up points raised at the session and instead re-run it at a later date. The closing date for the consultation has been pushed back by one month to 4 June.
Hopkirk defend his position, though, writing in a comment on the blog that he maintained a professional separation between such roles and was neutral on the consultation.
"By way of clarification and noting that I maintain a strict firewall between the different activities I am engaged in from time to time," he said.
"I have not been asked to publicly or privately support any client brief or position in the government consultation."
Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment from V3.
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