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

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.