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EC postpones its guideline on ICT standardisation and procurement

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The European Commission will postpone until early next year the publication of its guideline on how to make best use of ICT standards in tender specifications. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, in a video speech on Friday said that the guideline should ensure that public authorities get the most value from open source and open standards. "And also that open source suppliers can compete fairly in tenders."

The guideline is one of the actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The draft was published almost exactly one year ago, following an EC workshop on ICT procurement.

The draft warns that choosing standards is complex and public administrations should be aware. For instance, the draft begins: "Whilst standards that are set through formal standard setting organisations go through a formal development process, they may still contain barriers to implementation by all interested parties, or may not be widely implemented by the market."

This 'Communication on standardisation and public procurement' was originally planned to be adopted this year. However, in a message posted on Twitter on Friday, Carl-Christian Buhr, member of the cabinet of Kroes, said the planning "looks challenging" and may slip to early 2013.

Three things
The guidelines are one of three things the European Commission is doing to support open source, Kroes told the attendees of Red Hat's Open Source Conference, which took place in Amsterdam on Friday.

The other two are, first, through the EU's investment in research and innovation - the Seventh Framework Programme. Kroes pointed to the Open Nebula cloud computing project, built on open source and financially supported by the EU.

Second, the Commission also practising what it preaches, Kroes said. The EC is building a portal for open data - based entirely on open source solutions. Kroes: "Plus, our own Digital Agenda website runs on 'Drupal'. I'm proud that my own services are the first in the commission to use an open source system this way."

More information:
Three ways the EU is Supporting Open Source (video)
Action 23: Provide guidance on ICT standardisation and public procurement
Draft guidelines on ICT standardisation and public procurement
Carl-Christian Buhr's comments, on Twitter
Open Source Conference 2012