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UK government makes "big step forward" on open document standards

OpenSource.com - Paul Brownell - As previously reported on Opensource.com, the government of the United Kingdom forcefully signaled its intention earlier this year to mandate the adoption of compulsory document format standards in public administrations. The government's stated objective was to assure greater choice for both government and citizens and for public administrations to avoid being locked in to software “that is still provided by just a few large companies."

True to their word, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced this week that the UK government will henceforth require compliance with Open Document Format (ODF) in software purchases in all public administrations. ODF will be required for documents that are to be shared or to be collaborated on; PDF/A or HTML compliance will be required for viewable government documents.

This is great news, of course, but it did not come easily. The UK government spent significant time and treasure directly interviewing stakeholders in both government and the private sector as to the challenges they face and what potential solutions (by way of document format standards) might address them. A subsequent public consultation solicited more than 500 comments from the standards community and general public. Red Hat has been actively engaged, along with others, in supporting the UK government’s effort to ensure use of open standards.