uk government announcement - open document formats selected to meet user needs

OFE's UK Chapter welcomes this key policy announcement. 

It is a fundamental step in implementing the Government's Open Standards Principles.

For the first time ever there is a default open format for Government documents.

The implications of a successful implementation will be widespread.  The potential is there to catalyse change well beyond central government. The Cabinet Office deserves every credit for a thorough and informed approach to being an intelligent adopter of standards.  This policy can deliver simpler user centric ICT decisions, more cost effective archiving, easier e-inclusion programmes and improved collaboration between government departments and between departments and the outside world.  If ever there was an organisation that runs on documents, it is the machinery of government.  An open foundation to the digital workings of government should be applauded.

The OFE UK Chapter volunteers look forward to supporting this policy through our activities and celebrating its success.



U.K. Cabinet Office Adopts ODF as Exclusive Standard for Sharable Documents

Andy Updegrove - OFA Fellow - The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

Henceforth, ODF compliance will be required for documents intended to be shared or subject to collaboration. PDF/A or HTML compliance will be required for viewable government documents. The decision follows a long process that invited, and received, very extensive public input – over 500 comments in all. 


Huge Win for ODF in UK: Let's Not Mess it up

Glyn Moody - OFA Fellow - Back in January, I alerted people to a hugely-significant consultation being run by the Cabinet Office on the subject of document standards. This was so critical, that I banged on about several times more, urging readers to submit their comments. I must confess that I was not optimistic: we have been through this exercise so many times, and been so close to obtaining support for open formats, only to be thwarted by machinations, that I assumed the same would happen here. That's partly why I put in a Freedom of Information request, in an attempt to head that off, if possible, and if not, at least to document what happened. The fact that I still have not received an answer to my adjusted request only seemed to confirm my fears.

And yet something extraordinary has happened, as revealed by this Cabinet Office press release from yesterday:

The open standards selected for sharing and viewing government documents have been announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

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UK government adopts Open Document Format standard for collaboration on documents

Jochen Friedrich  - OFA Fellow - Yesterday the Minister of the Cabinet Office in the UK, Francis Maude, announced that the UK government adopts the Open Document Format (ODF) standard for documents that are presented for collaboration and interaction. Two other standards, PDF/A and HTML, are chosen for viewing government information.


I admire the UK government for this decision. ODF is the established standard for documents. It is used in OpenOffice , in LibreOffice, and also in Microsoft Office. Gone are the days of the battle about OOXML and the debates about ODF versus OOXML. That's the stuff of last decade. The UK government now made the step into the future direction supporting and requiring an open standard for document formats that is widely available and implemented in a number of competing products and solutions.

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Public procurement of ICT products in Europe still afflicted by references to brand names

 OFE Press Release 15th July 2014 - For the sixth consecutive year, OpenForum Europe examined the EU Member States' practice of referring to specific trademarks when procuring for ICT products. In our latest report released in July 2014, we found that 22% of all tender notices issued contained an explicit references to specific brands – an increase of 5% since our previous report published in October 2013. This figure indicates a trend of continued discrimination

Society is ready for a data-driven economy. Is European legislation keeping the pace?

OFE Brussels - 4th July 2014 - In a statement released today, OpenForum Europe (OFE) comments on the recently published Commission Communication on Big Data (“Towards a thriving data-driven economy”).  We welcome the Commission's actions regarding key developments which will enable a better harnessing of the benefits of a digital society. However, we express some concerns on specific areas. 

 We believe that the legislative framework should aim at providing a safe, flexible environment enabling open innovation. Open standards are a key component of this environment, and we applaud the Commission for pointing out their important role here. We hope to see the Commission working hand in hand with the industry to clarify the standards landscape on a number of big data areas.

 Full Text of the release



A step forward for Net Neutrality in Europe

OFE Statement - Brussels - 4th April 2014 - OpenForum Europe welcomes the historic vote on the new telecom package that took place in the European Parliament on April 3rd and congratulates MEPs and the Commission for their efforts to safeguard the Open Internet in Europe. In an unusually short period of 6 months, this initial phase of the legislative process managed to deliver a solid basis for the Council of the EU to work on. We have explained before why we believe that iron-clad guarantees for net neutrality are needed to ensure continued innovation and fair, open competition in the online ecosystem. The Internet is an enormous engine for growth and access to knowledge, and key to its success has always been the possibility for anyone, anywhere to freely create and share content with every other user on the network.
Full Text of the Release


OFE Adds its Comments to UK Government Standards Hub Proposals on Document Formats

Basil_MelOFE Statement - London - 28th February 2014 - The Comment cycle for the UK Government's Proposals on Document Formats have created a level of interest unseen in our industry for many years. Indeed, probably not since the original controversies when 'OOXML' was put to the vote in ISO – an exercise for which the administrators involved must now look back with deep embarrassment. So why is it that a seemingly 'dry' topic like Document Formats have fired up so many interested citizens and industry suppliers? To understand you need firstly to recognise the importance of the Open Standards Principles previously committed by the Government, with support from the very top. Those have been acclaimed worldwide, because they are seen as an essential step towards providing a level playing field for all suppliers, covering all business models, allowing all technologies, and particularly encouraging competition from SMEs. The current focus and progress on 'digital by default' and use of agile development would simply not be possible without open standards. But of course the biggest win is to break out from the lock-in to single supplier solutions, probably the most costly and single biggest inhibitor to competition and innovation in public sector IT for the last decade.

Full Text of the Release



OFE Press Release - Brussels - 1st April 2014 ‐ The online communications industry, consumer protection and civil rights NGOs want to preserve the open internet. We are gravely concerned about loopholes in the Commission and Industry Committee texts that would allow parts of the telecommunications industry to become gatekeepers that decide what succeeds and what fails online. Even national regulators (through BEREC, the Body of European Regulators) have expressed a fear that the Commission's proposals seek to re--‐shape the market in favour of large ex--‐ monopoly telecoms operators.

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Time for the European Institutions to show their support for open standards

OFE Press Release - Brussels - 26th March 2014 - Throughout the world today, individuals and organisations are celebrating Document Freedom Day. The goal of this annual event is to raise public awareness on information accessibility and the use of open standards.

We believe that public administrations have a key role to play in this regard, in at least two important ways. First by ensuring that every citizen and stakeholder group can interact with its public administration using the software of its choice, without having to worry about compatibility or portability across different platforms. Second, by ensuring efficient use of public money and fostering competition through innovation in the market. Overall, public procurement represents around 19% of the EU GDP. Only by supporting open standards can public administrations avoid vendor lock-in which increases prices and reduces competition in the market.

Full Text of the Release

Letter to Vilella - Use of document and video formats in the EU Institutions


OFE welcomes the European Cloud Partnership “Trusted Cloud Europe” vision document

OFE Press Release - Brussels - 21st March 2014 - Today's European Cloud Partnership Steering Board announcement on Trusted Cloud for Europe (TCE) is to be welcomed. TCE is a tangible and important move to develop a higher level framework within which the recommendations from the Commission's Cloud Specific Interest Groups will be positioned. It is right that industry is very closely involved here to ensure that the opportunity in Europe resulting from Cloud based services is maximised.

Full Text of the Release

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uk chapter  - LAUNCH


Open Forum Europe UK Chapter

 OFE (Openforum Europe) launches a formal UK Chapter, firmly endorsing the UK Cabinet Office's Open Standards Principles. The new Chapter is looking to support the Principles within central government and the diffusion of the ideas and benefits to the entire public sector and those engaged with it. In order to facilitate this, the UK Chapter has been set up to allow wider and easier interchange between community volunteers and supporters and the public sector.


OpenForum Academy is an independent programme established by OpenForum Europe. It has created a link with academia in order to provide new input and insight into the key issues which impact the openness of the IT market.

OFE Round Table - Ensuring the security of critical ICT Infrastructure after Heartbleed: Should we leave it to the Community or does Government have a role?

OpenForum Academy (OFA) Round Table discussion on the security of critical ICT Infrastrucutre was held on 26 June 2014, at Silken Berlaymont Hotel, Brussels. Report is now available.

Round Table Report

Discriminatory practices continue to plague IT public procurement across Europe


For the fifth consecutive year, OpenForum Europe publishes a report on the EU Member States' practice of referring to specific trademarks when procuring computer software packages and information systems.

We found that almost 1 in 5 notices included technical specifications containg explicit references to trademarks.

These results clearly show that there is an entrenched and continuing EU-wide level of discrimination in the purchase of IT supplies. More than ever, there is urgent need for more transparent, open and fair EU and national procurement practices.

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In the UK OFE submits written evidence to Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) inquiry on Public Procurement.

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