The Channel logo


By | Lucy Sherriff 8th June 2007 15:54

Downing St ambivalent on open standards

Yeah, but no, but yeah..

The UK government has made a statement offering cautious and qualified support for the adoption of open standards for government documents, but warns that there is no such thing as a document storage panacea.

The statement forms part of Number 10's response to a petition calling on the government to promote the use of Open Document Format within its ranks.

1,310 people signed the petition, which argued that the government should use open standard's based formats to properly future proof the documents they produce. The petition author, John Imrie, wrote:

Government documents must be available for tens if not hundreds of years. Currently much electronic documentation is stored in proprietary formats, such as Microsoft's .doc format. In order to allow future generations access to these documents it is imperative that they be in a fully documented standard.

Broadly, the government's response is that it does champion open standards, where possible, but that no single standard could ever solve the problem of storing multiple document formats:

Where possible the Government only uses products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments. Interoperability and open standards also support the sustainability of digital information beyond any single generation of technology.

All very helpful, as far as it goes. And as to future policy, the government defers to the experts:

A policy on digital preservation, which includes guidance on the selection of sustainable data formats based on open standards, is being formulated by The National Archives, and will help define the standards for desktop systems.

You can read the petition here and the government's full response here. ®

comment icon Read 9 comments on this article alert Send corrections


Frank Jennings

What do you do? Use manual typwriters or live in a Scottish croft? Our man advises
A rusty petrol pump at an abandoned gas station. Pic by Silvia B. Jakiello via shutterstock

Trevor Pott

Among other things, Active Directory needs an overhaul
Baby looks taken aback/shocked/affronted. Photo by Shutterstock

Kat Hall

Plans for 2 million FTTP connections in next four years 'not enough'
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella


League of gentlemen poster - Tubbs and Edward at the local shop. Copyright BBC
One reselling man tells his tale of woe