Cabinet Office launches open source consultation

The Cabinet Office is calling on the technology community to give their views on what open source and open standards means for government IT.

Called 'Open Standards: Open Opportunities, flexibility and efficiency in government IT', the consultation aims to define open standards for software interoperability, data and document formats in government IT.

It comes nearly a year after the government published its ICT strategy (30 March 2011), which outlined government's commitment to create a common IT infrastructure based on compulsory open standards.

Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, said: "We are committed to implementing open standards and want to create a level playing field for open source and proprietary software.

"Open standards for software and systems will reduce costs and enable us to provide better public services."

Liam Maxwell, director for ICT futures in the Cabinet Office, called on the IT community in particular to respond to the consultation.

"There was a great response to the UK government open standards survey we ran last year and we've proposed a policy that takes on board what people said. Some questions remain however, so this formal consultation is taking place so that we can stimulate a transparent debate and gather further evidence."

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However, open source specialist Open Business Associates, which has tried to engage with government on the subject over the last year, was sceptical about whether anything would come from the consultation.

"Let's hope it's not just more talk," said Alaric Jenkins, commercial director at Open Business Associates.

"We look at all the opportunities that get published and we've not really seen any real evidence of the government moving to open source. If they were seriously doing that they would be publishing tender opportunities through the usual channels. We can only assume they're still only talking about it."

The open source consultation can be accessed here.

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