UK government chooses ODF as standard document format


The government of UK has chosen Open Document Format as their default standard document formats for documents to be edited, while PDF/A or HTML are chosen for documents to be viewed. Microsofts document formats is no longer a part of their strategy.

The news was presented in a press release:

Worldwide engagement leads to standards that get people working together.

The open standards selected for sharing and viewing government
documents have been announced by the Minister for the Cabinet
Office, Francis Maude.

The standards set out the document file formats that are expected to
be used across all government bodies. Government will begin using
open formats that will ensure that citizens and people working in
government can use the applications that best meet their needs when
they are viewing or working on documents together.

When departments have adopted these open standards:

* citizens, businesses and voluntary organisations will no longer
need specialist software to open or work with government
documents

* people working in government will be able to share and work with
documents in the same format, reducing problems when they move
between formats

* government organisations will be able to choose the most suitable
and cost effective applications, knowing their documents will
work for people inside and outside of government

The selected standards, which are compatible with commonly used
document applications, are:

* PDF/A or HTML for viewing government documents
* Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents

The move supports the government’s policy to create a level playing
field for suppliers of all sizes, with its digital by default agenda
on track to make cumulative savings of £1.2 billion in this
Parliament for citizens, businesses and taxpayers.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

“Our long-term plan for a stronger economy is all about helping UK
businesses grow. We have listened to those who told us that open
standards will reduce their costs and make it easier to work with
government. This is a major step forward for our
digital-by-default agenda which is helping save citizens,
businesses and taxpayers £1.2 billion over this Parliament.”

Mike Bracken, Executive Director of the Government Digital Service said:

“We had a huge response to this proposal, both from the standards
community and the public as a whole. I want to thank everyone who
took the time to comment.“

“Their feedback made it clear just how important choosing the
right way of publishing documents is. Using an open standard will
mean people won’t have costs imposed on them just to view or work
with information from government. It’s a big step forward, and I’m
delighted we’re taking it.”

A rigorous process was undertaken which included considering over
500 public comments and talking directly to users.

One of the respondents to the proposal said on the Standards Hub:

“From my perspective as IT manager for a UK charity, use of open
standards for documents is key to controlling our overheads… From
our perspective it makes sense to receive government documentation
in ODF because it is possible to install up-to-date software on
all computers.”

The new standards will come into effect straight away for all new
procurements subject to the Open Standards Principles. The
Government Digital Service will work with departments to publish
guidance and implementation plans.