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Open standards rift tears UK policy to shreds

Computer Weekly - Cabinet Office scrapped its open standards policy before opening it to consultation last month, opening the way for a major policy U-turn.

It issued a procurement policy edict on 30 November that erased a standards policy that had been in place since 31 January. It was revoked after a period of lobbying by powerful companies lined against its open standards policy that included Microsoft and the Business Software Alliance.

The 30 November edict to procurement officers, Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 09/11, said it superseded the 31 January policy, PPN 3/11. But it contained no superseding policy. It deferred to a forthcoming public consultation on open standards the Cabinet Office had announced 5 days earlier.

"PPN 3/11 has therefore been withdrawn," it said.

The policy had required public bodies to specify open standards "wherever possible" and had defined an open standard as something produced in an open forum, sanctioned by an international standards body, and made available irrevocably at zero or low cost without payment of royalties.