Open Standards Principles Now in Force

November 1, 2012

From 1 November 2012 all government bodies must comply with Open Standards Principles, an agreed set of standards which Minister for Cabinet Office, Francis Maude says will ‘to make our IT more open, cheaper and better connected’.

The Open Standards Principles have been developed following the public consultation ‘Open Standards: Open Opportunities – flexibility and efficiency in Government IT’ which took place from February to June this year. The principles are intended to help the government to deliver more innovative IT services and further drive savings and encourage more competition for government contracts.

The Cabinet Office state that there has been overwhelming support from the public and the IT community for setting an open standards policy for software interoperability, data and document formats:

·        nearly 70% of respondents in the consultation believe that the principles will improve innovation, competition and choice in the provision of government services; and

·        over 70% agree that they would help improve value for money.

Francis Maude said:

‘We know that there are more real savings to be made in Government IT contracts …Government must be better connected to the people it serves and partners who can work with it – especially small businesses, voluntary and community organisations. Having open information and software that can be used across government departments will result in lower licensing costs in government IT, and reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products. It is only right that we are encouraging competition and creating a level playing field for all companies to ensure we are getting the best price for the taxpayer.’

Government bodies must comply with Open Standards Principles for software interoperability and data and document formats in government IT, unless they apply for an exemption.

The ‘Open Standards: Open Opportunities flexibility and efficiency in Government IT‘ was launched in February 2012. The Cabinet Office response to the consultation was published on 1 November and can be found at: Over 480 responses to consultation were received. They are available at where permission to publish was granted.