The public consultation on open standards for government IT is with ministers for consideration and the outcome is likely to be published this Autumn.

The Cabinet Office launched a consultation on open standards for government IT last February.

The public consultation ended on 4 June and that, along with the government response, is now with ministers for consideration.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said it will need ministerial approval to proceed, but the outcome is likely to be published this Autumn.

A new Government ICT Strategy, released in March 2011, committed the government to creating a common secure IT infrastructure, based on a suite of compulsory open standards, and adopting appropriate open standards wherever possible.

The consultation asked respondents about the criteria for open standards, whether they should be mandated and how to align UK activity with international action.

A background document on the Cabinet Office website says the cost of the Government’s IT is too high and there is a lack of market diversity in existing government contracts.

“A more diverse market and level-playing field for access to government IT contracts is needed to improve competition, reduce cost and improve public service outcomes,” it says.

“From a user perspective, it is difficult to transfer information and data across government boundaries and systems due to a lack of interoperability between products and services.”

The Cabinet Office says this lack of interoperability also makes it difficult for the government to reuse components, switch between vendors and products or to “deliver efficient public services that leverage the value of government information.”

Deputy government chief information officer Liam Maxwell told eHealth Insider the new standards will help to create a level playing field for open source and proprietary software.

He argued that open standards can be “tremendously powerful” in their ability to open up the public sector IT market.

Read Maxwell’s interview in Insight.