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Government reveals board members expected to drive open standards

At the end of last year all government departments were ordered to comply with open standards

The Cabinet Office has revealed a board of ten members that will be expected to identify and drive the open standards that are intended to promote a cheaper and easier way of buying and using IT in government.

It was revealed at the end of last year that all government departments will be expected to comply with these open standards, which aim to underpin a common infrastructure that will deliver user-centric services to citizens and businesses.

The Open Standards Board has been set up to ensure that the government's open standards meet users' needs and create a level playing field for open source and proprietary software.

Board members include government CTO, Liam Maxwell, and Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information at the NHS Commissioning Board.

The other appointments are:

John Atherton, SurevineMatthew Dovey, Joint Information Systems CommitteeAdam Cooper, Bolton UniversityPaul Downey, Government Digital ServiceJeni Tennison, Open Data InstituteLee Edwards, London Borough of RedbridgeJohn Sheridan, The National ArchivesChris Ulliott, CESG

The Cabinet Office is hopeful that the standards will encourage more flexible IT contracts and provide access to the wider marketplace, despite having received some resistance from traditional Whitehall suppliers in recent months.

"Open standards are at the heart of making government IT cheaper, more flexible, more connected and attuned to providing user-focused public services," said Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude.

"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."

He added: "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. We expect savings on IT in 2012/13 alone to be over £400m - and we know we can save more."

When going to tender for IT services, if a government department doesn't want to use open standards, it will now have to apply for an exemption through a Whitehall spending review team. Any exemption requests will have to clearly explain why it is not beneficial for open standards to be used in that situation.

The government will be relying on the board member's expertise to fully establish the open standards being used, but will also be using feedback received through tis online Standards hub - the 'centre of engagement' for all government related IT open standards activity.

Some of the topics currently being discussed on the Standards Hub include IP address on government network, interoperability standards for end user devices and multi-agency incident transfer.


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