The Cabinet Office has announced the appointment of an Open Standards Board to oversee the development of a level playing field for open source and proprietary software providers in government.
Since November, departments have been required to ensure all new IT contracts with software suppliers abide by open standards principles, allowing interoperability and data and document format interoperability. The Cabinet Office central spend and control process is responsible for ensuring departments adhere to the policy when procuring software.
Last month, the Cabinet Office outlined eight challenging areas of IT solutions, where departments are struggling to find open, interoperable software solutions.
These include areas such as interoperable standards for end user devices, cross-platform character encoding and publishing data on government spending.
The government has asked that those with the expertise come forward and register with the new Standards Hub website, to create a standards-based solution to one of the challenging areas.
A panel of technology experts will be responsible for filtering solutions proposed on the Standards Hub, while the Open Standards Board will provide senior governance of the process, and will have the remit to approve particular solutions.
The ten person board includes experts from inside and outside government with proven track records in open standards development and implementation.
They include Government Digital Service technical architect Paul Downey, NHS Commissioning Board director for patients and information Tim Kelsey and Open Data Institute technical director Jeni Tennison.
The chair of the board is government chief technology officer Liam Maxwell.
"The Open Standards Board has a key role to play in establishing the open standards that should be used when the Government buys its IT, so that we can make sure that we choose what best meets our users' needs," said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
"With interoperable systems based on open standards we can build in flexibility and cut costs by avoiding lock-in to suppliers or products, achieve a truly level playing field for a diverse range of suppliers, and provide better services for taxpayers."
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