As part of Government’s commitment to delivering services that meet user needs, we sometimes have to choose open standards to help departments and teams to join up systems or to share information.
Open standards help us to adapt to changing needs and technologies, making the cost of government’s digital services more sustainable.
With your help, we select open standards that will deliver better, more efficient services. The Standards Hub is where we ask you to get involved.
We do this in four stages:
- Tell us what users need – suggest a challenge for us to look into
- Tell us which open standards to consider – give a response about which open standards you think might help to meet a user need
- Tell us what you think about our proposals – give us your comments
- Tell us if something’s not right – if there’s something we’ve adopted that is causing a problem, contact us
Open standards selected
The Open Standards Board meets to decide which core standards should be used in government technology to make services better for users and keep costs sustainable.
We publish open standards selected by the board on the Standards Hub solution page.
The Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data standard were both selected for use across government at the latest meeting of the Open Standards Board.
These standards have similar aims in that they both enable the publishing of information about government spending. Government procurement data for OCDS and the flow of aid spending in the case of the IATI data standard. Both in a timely, accessible, machine-readable form enabling analysis and reuse.
The Board members agreed that the organisations behind both standards had development processes that meet our definition of open.
Open Contracting Data Standard
Warren Smith presented the challenge and the standard to the board. He explained that much of government spending is through contracts for the procurement of goods and services. The adoption of the OCDS will help make this spending transparent to taxpayers. Businesses who wish to sell services to
The adoption of the OCDS will help make this spending transparent to taxpayers. Businesses who wish to sell services to government will have access to the information they need. The simple and extensible JSON format of OCDS allows the publication of structured information on all stages the contracting process.
The simple and extensible JSON format of OCDS allows the publication of structured information on all stages the contracting process.
IATI data standard
This standard allows the publishing of up-to-date information about aid and development flows. John Adams told the Board how taxpayers and people in aid-receiving countries need access to data on aid spending. Taxpayers to see how their money is spent. People in developing countries to know the resources made available to their government. The IATI XML schemas describes the aid activities and other information required to share the data.
The challenge owners have written a blog post explaining the benefits of these standards and how they can work together.
Changes in open standards
Both of these standards were taken through the new fast-track process. Before now standards were suggested as solutions in response to a problem already published on the Hub. The fast-track has the same level of transparency and diligence but allows a standard to be given as a possible solution from the start.
The standards were evaluated by a combined panel formed of experts from the Technical and Data panels. This new joint panel is another change made by the team to ensure that the correct expertise is available to advise the Board of the suitability of a standard for use.
The Board was shown the latest iteration of the Standards Hub which will be hosted on GitHub. This move to a new platform is aimed to enhance collaboration on challenges and reduce the admin burden on the open standards team.
Other changes in open standards were reported in a recent post: what’s up with open standards?
There are new suggestions challenges that we are looking for a challenge owner for:
- Evaluate OpenAPI as a common API description format
- Authentication standards for government systems
- Date-Times and Time-stamps
These have already attracted some interest and comment on and off the Hub and we would welcome more.
Challenge owners work with us to find an open standard solution to the challenges suggested by Hub users. We support challenge owners throughout the process’ leading on assessment and helping the development of proposals
If you would like to be a challenge owner you can contact us to find out more.