New procurement guidance from the UK government has defined open standards as having "intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis". The document, which has been published by the Cabinet Office, applies to all government departments and says that, when purchasing software, technology infrastructure, security or other goods and services, departments should "wherever possible deploy open standards".
Mark Taylor, CEO of Sirius IT, a UK open source integrator, who has previouslyled calls for more open source and free software use by government, told The H that the "Cabinet Office's new Policy statement is simply the best of any European Government to date, and a great step forward in levelling the playing field for Open Source software".
The guidance goes on to further define open standards as ones which result from an open, independent process and that are approved by a recognised standardisation organisation (the W3C and ISO are given as examples). The standards themselves must be thoroughly documented and publicly available at zero or low cost and have intellectual property "made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis". It is also required that they can be shared and implemented across a number of platforms and using different development approaches.
The guidelines are based on the view that "government assets should be interoperable and open for re-use". Any departments which wish to not implement open standards are required to present "clear business reasons why this is inappropriate".