Jump to: navigation, search

The UK Government is consulting on Open Standards support, and asking for responses on various questions about how they could encourage Open Standards through government action. Here are the questions:

Section 1: defining open standards:

  • How does this definition of open standard compare to your view of what makes a standard 'open'?
    • The Microformats definition of a standard (see process) is compatible with the UK Govt version. Specifically:
      • Microformats are collaborative and transparently maintained on this Wiki
      • we are a forum with a process to ensure quality
      • published, thoroughly documented and available at zero cost
      • to be considered 'standard' (as opposed to 'draft' or 'spec' ) requires interoperating implementations (note the distinction between publishing and consuming that we make)
      • All contributions are required to be CC0 (public domain) and will not be patented
  • What will the Government be inhibited from doing if this definition of open standards is adopted for software interoperability, data and document formats across central government?
    • Data formats operate on multiple levels. There is a distinction between underlying structural form (XML, JSON, SQL HTML etc) and the vocabulary in use that defines field names and validity. A well-defined structural form can accommodate variations in vocabulary between versions cleanly. Adopting standards with a tight binding between structure and vocabulary may constrain what is transferable.
  • For businesses attempting to break into the government IT market, would this policy make things easier or more difficult – does it help to level the playing field?
    • It should definitely help level the playing field.
  • How would mandating open standards for use in government IT for software interoperability, data and document formats affect your organisation?
    • Clearly it depends on the details of which standards and organisations are chosen. If we're a chosen standardisation organisation, it may lead to an influx of new editors and specifications, which is welcomed, but may add to contention here.
  • What effect would this policy have on improving value for money in the provision of government services?
    • it should promote re-use and hence reduce sunk costs, as well as interop costs.
  • Would this policy support innovation, competition and choice in delivery of government services?
    • It should, if bodies such as ours with an empirical worldview of standards can be chosen
  • In what way do software copyright licences and standards patent licences interact to support or prevent interoperability?
    • They often prevent interoperability, particularly when sprung on standards after they are in wide use.
  • How could adopting (Fair) Reasonable and Non Discriminatory ((F)RAND) standards deliver a level playing field for open source and proprietary software solution providers?
    • Sanctioning companies that use patents to obstruct open standards, or to extract rent from them would be a way to ensure that this is not abused.
  • Does selecting open standards which are compatible with a free or open source software licence exclude certain suppliers or products?
    • it may exclude those designed to extract rents in future.
  • Does a promise of non-assertion of a patent when used in open source software alleviate concerns relating to patents and royalty charging?
    • Yes, but the difficulty comes when patents are asserted by those nto party to the standard initially (eg Trolls and Non-Practicing Entities)
  • Should a different rationale be applied when purchasing off-the-shelf software solutions than is applied when purchasing bespoke solutions?
    • Being sure that you can get your data out fo the off-the-shelf software in a useful form is as important, as otherwise it may impose hidden bespoke costs later.
  • In terms of standards for software interoperability, data and document formats, is there a need for the Government to engage with or provide funding for specific committees/bodies?
    • Engaging with empirical standards bodies like Microformats is always welcome. Funding may be trickier as it can distory
  • Are there any are other policy options which would meet the described outcomes more effectively?
    • Not clear.

Mandating Open Standards

International Alignment

govUKopenstandards was last modified: Thursday, April 26th, 2012