Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Looking for IT Leaders? Try Denmark

There is big news about to break on the IT policy front, and it comes from Denmark.

It is expected that tomorrow the Danish Parliament will approve a bill to require the government to use open standards beginning January 1, 2008. This is unofficial at the moment, but a majority in Parliament will apparently vote in favor of the motion, orginally tabled by Morten Helveg Petersen.

John Gotze offers an excellent summary of the motion (in english).

During the motion's initial debate there was enormous resistence from the Minister of Science and no commitment from the Liberal-Conservative government for an open standards law. But two developments changed the political balance. As blogged by John Gotze, the pro-government, conservative Danish People's Party came out in support the motion. And a Danish daily newspaper published a previously secret internal government report that recommended mandating open standards to ensure interoperability, even if specific an economic cost/benefit analysis was not yet possible. The tide turned, and the Helveg Petersen Motion has apparently found a majority.

Two specific points to note with the Danish bill:

1. It will incorporate open standards into public procurement of IT.

2. It specifically says that all digital information and data that the public sector exchanges with citizens, companies and institutions, should be in open standards- based formats. It does not mention the OpenDocument Format, but ODF clearly meets the requirements of this law regarding public documents.

Although the implementation of an open standards mandate will depend on numerous issues of technical feasibility differing from standard to standard, there is no doubt that its impact will be far-reaching.

Count Denmark along with the State of Massachusetts as the two leading governments in IT policy.

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