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Mandatory Open Standards in Denmark

by John Goetze

The Danish Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Helge Sander, recently made a press announcement about his plan for following up on the Parliament Resolution 8 months ago. The implementation plan is presented in a report which suggests that "open standards should be implemented gradually by making it mandatory for the public sector to use a number of open standards when this becomes technically feasible". The report identifies an initial sets of open standards as candidates for mandatory use from 1 January 2008 "if an economic impact assessment shows that this will not involve additional costs to the public sector". The implementation plan's elements are as follows [excerpted]: (1) "From 1 January 2008, all new public IT solutions should make use of the mandatory open standards relevant to the IT solution in question unless there are significant reasons for not complying with these standards."; (2) "If there are significant reasons for not complying with the relevant mandatory open standards, this must be reported on signing the contract, stating the reasons for applying the exceptional provisions." [...] The proposed mandatory standards from 1-January-2008 falls within the following areas: standards for data interchange between public authorities; standards for electronic file and document handling; standards for exchanging documents between public authorities (Open Document Format and Office OpenXML); standards for electronic procurement in the public sector; standards for digital signatures; standards for public websites / homepages; standards for IT security -- only within the public sector. Around a dozen standards: Compliant XHTML or HTML, complaint CSS, WAI Level 2, OCES (digital signature), XML 1.0, XML Schema 1.0, NDR 3.0, FESD (document management), OIOUBL, UNSPSC, and DS484 (ISO 17799). With regard to standards for exchanging documents between public authorities, the report proposes that "it should be mandatory to use at least one of the document standards Open Document Format or Office OpenXML", and that it is up to the individual agency to decide what they want. The report explains that a study will be conducted this year with the purpose of obtaining the necessary experience with these standards before 1-January-2008...
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