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  5. <title>FSFE's submission to the UK Open Standards Proposal 2014</title>
  6. <meta content="FSFE's submission to the UK Open Standards Proposal 2014" name="description" />
  7. <meta content="Open standards UK submission ICT Futures team Cabinet Office European interoperability framework Declaration on Standards Future of the Internet Document Freedom Day Definition Emerging Standards FSFE" name="keywords"/>
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  10. <p id="category"><a href="/work.html">Our Work</a> /
  11. <a href="/activities/os/os.html">Overview of Open Standards</a>
  12. </p>
  13. <h1>Submission to UK Open Standards Proposal 2014</h1>
  14. <div id="introduction">
  15. <p>
  16. This is FSFE's submission to the <a href="http://standards.data.gov.uk/proposal/sharing-collaborating-government-documents">UK Open
  17. Standards Proposal</a>, held by the Standards Hub in Cabinet Office,
  18. submitted on 28th January 2014.
  19. </p>
  20. </div>
  21. <p>
  22. <a href="/">Free Software Foundation Europe</a> has long
  23. advocated the use of Open Standards in government. We applaud this
  24. proposal by the UK government.
  25. </p>
  26. <p>
  27. Most governments are suffering the effects of lock-in in their IT
  28. infrastructure: high costs, dependence on a single ultimate supplier,
  29. no strategic freedom. This all but eliminates meaningful competition
  30. among suppliers, and stifles technological progress. In addition,
  31. these governments often end up imposing on the citizens they serve
  32. (and on other organisations they cooperate with) an obligation to
  33. acquire the same non-free programs that the government uses.
  34. </p>
  35. <p>
  36. In contrast, the UK government stands out not just for its
  37. determination to break free and make real competition among suppliers
  38. possible, but also for having an integrated strategy for doing so. The
  39. present proposal is a central building block of this strategy, along
  40. with a clear and strong <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-standards-principles/open-standards-principles#open-standard---definition"
  41. >definition of Open Standards</a>, the recently announced <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-draws-the-line-on-bloated-and-wasteful-it-contracts"
  42. >red lines</a> for IT contracts, and other elements.
  43. </p>
  44. <p>
  45. We applaud the UK Government's approach of focusing on standards
  46. rather than products, and relying on a strong definition of Open
  47. Standards to ensure that there will be significant competition among
  48. suppliers for any software products that the government may wish to
  49. use.
  50. </p>
  51. <p>
  52. An important feature of the present proposal is that it relies on a
  53. thorough and comprehensive <a href="https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/01/29/government-documents-understanding-what-users-need/"
  54. >study of the actual user needs</a>. This greatly increases the chances
  55. that the proposal can be successfully implemented, and that any new tools
  56. deployed will be well matched to the requirements of their users.
  57. </p>
  58. <p>
  59. The proposed standards (HTML (4.01, 5 or higher); TXT; CSV; ODF (1.1
  60. or higher)) each address a different technical need. The UK Government
  61. is correct in focusing on a single Open Standard for each category and
  62. purpose.
  63. </p>
  64. <p>
  65. Competition takes place on top of standards, not between them.
  66. Especially with regards to documents produced in office suites,
  67. concentrating on a single Open Standard will ensure that all suppliers
  68. can compete on an equal basis. In the mid to long term, the demand
  69. created by the UK government, and any others following in its
  70. footsteps, is bound to lead to significant improvements in the way
  71. office suites work - an area where progress has been all but absent
  72. for about a decade.
  73. </p>
  74. <p>
  75. We agree with Francis Maude's assessment, from a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/sprint-14-speech-by-francis-maude"
  76. >speech</a> delivered on January 29 this year, that "the adoption of open
  77. standards in government threatens the power of lock-in to proprietary
  78. vendors yet it will give departments the power to choose what is right
  79. for them and the citizens who use their services."
  80. </p>
  81. <p>
  82. In closing, we reiterate our support for the UK Government's proposed
  83. approach. Ultimately, any strategy is only as good as its
  84. implementation. We would thus like to express our hope that the
  85. government will follow through on implementing this approach across
  86. all of its branches. FSFE remains available to support this effort.
  87. </p>
  88. <h2>For further information about FSFE's work on Open Standards:</h2>
  89. <ul>
  90. <li><a href="/activities/os/def.en.html">FSFE`s definition of Open Standards</a></li>
  91. <li><a href="/activities/os/os.en.html">Overview of FSFE`s work on Open Standards</a></li>
  92. <li><a href="/activities/os/ps.en.html">Analysis on balance: Standardisation and Patents</a></li>
  93. <li><a href="/activities/os/bsa-letter-analysis.en.html">Defending Open Standards: FSFE refutes BSA's false claims to European Commission</a></li>
  94. <li><a href="/activities/igf/sovsoft.en.html">Open Standards, Free Software, and the Internet</a></li>
  95. </ul>
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