UK Government forms Open Standards Board to drive down IT costs

In a statement on Monday, the Cabinet Office said the board has been appointed to ensure that the government is able to identify standards that will make buying software simpler, cheaper and more flexible for those in the public sector.

The board’s ten members will concentrate on making sure that the government’s open standards meet users’ needs, the department said, while achieving a level playing field for the government’s open source and proprietary software suppliers.

The Cabinet Office said the standards would encourage more flexible IT contracts and open up the marketplace in a bid to move away from long-term deals.

The board, whose members include experts from inside and outside government with proven track records in open standards development and implementation, will be chaired by government CTO Liam Maxwell.

The other board members are:

  • John Atherton, Surevine
  • Matthew Dovey, Joint Information Systems Committee
  • Adam Cooper, Bolton University
  • Paul Downey, Government Digital Service
  • Jeni Tennison, Open Data Institute
  • Lee Edwards, London Borough of Redbridge
  • Tim Kelsey, NHS Commissioning Board
  • John Sheridan, The National Archives
  • Chris Ulliott, CESG

In November last year, the government published a set of Open Standards Principles, which all central government departments must adhere to.

The Cabinet Office said the principles “aim to underpin a common and secure IT infrastructure for delivery of user-focused services to citizens and businesses”.

Last month, the Cabinet Office invited suggestions on how to solve eight IT challenges through the use of open standards. These included areas such as electronic communications, interoperability standards for end-user devices and publishing data on government spending.

“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,” said cabinet minister Francis Maude.

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.”

Ed Reeves

Ed Reeves co-founded Moneypenny with his sister Rachel Clacher in 2000. The company handles more than 9 million calls a year for 7,000 UK businesses and employs almost 400 members of staff. Reeves remains...

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