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23 December 2011, 09:43

UK government pulls open standards recommendation

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Cabinet Office logo The UK Government has withdrawn the procurement guidance it issued in February which defined open standards for public sector use as royalty free according to a report in The government issued the procurement policy note (PPN) PPN03/11PDF which committed the government to implementing open standards in the public sector, but more significantly, defined open standards as being royalty free. Now, though, in a newly issued PPN, PPN09/11PDF, the government says it stands by its commitment to open standards but says that a survey it held to "gather views on the definition of the term open standard" and select particular standards has "raised many questions that need to be investigated in more detail".

Concerns were raised when the Cabinet Office said the policy was "not set in stone" and, in the survey, was found to be asking if Microsoft's Word, Excel and Powerpoint formats should be considered as public sector standards. Other groups had also complained that the royalty-free requirement discriminated against a number of existing international standards which had royalty-bearing intellectual property within them. In June, the government was seen to be backing off applying the policy across the public sector and suggested that the definition would only apply to a handful of standards.

The government says it is now planning to hold a formal public consultation to "gather evidence and further develop open standards policy". The new PPN states that the previous guidance is being withdrawn while that consultation is held. It is unclear what the government procurement policy on open standards is now, since the withdrawal notice does not specify what the definition of open standards will be in the interim.


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