Definition backed by scientists
Sweden’s governmental procurement specialists at Statens inköpscentral are fine-tuning the list of ICT standards that public authorities may use as mandatory requirements when procuring software and ICT services. The procurement agency is working with standardisation specialists at the University of Skövde, to check which ICT standards are truly open.
Contracting authorities in Sweden may require ICT standards as mandatory if these meet the requirement of the European Union’s Interoperability Framework (EIF v 1.0). Other technical specifications can only be used as ‘evaluation criteria’.
Statens inköpscentral recently published its framework agreements for software and ICT services (Kontorsstöd, Grundläggande it, Systemutveckling and Informationsförsörjning). All of these frameworks make it much easier for Sweden’s public administrations to procure software solutions and find ICT support. The frameworks have prepared the fundamental requirements and pre-approved service providers, and the preparations include authorising open ICT standards.
The procurement agency currently lists sixteen standards, including the ISO standard PDF/A-1 and OASIS standard ODF 1.2. Other standards are to be added this year.
Statens inköpscentral is working with standardisation experts Björn Lundell and Jonas Gamalielsson at the University of Skövde. The two are analysing ICT standards to check if they meet the requirements for an open standard and can therefore be recommended to Swedish public administrations.
Skövde researcher Lundell has been studying the practice of ICT standards for years. One of his focus areas is the use of document standards by Sweden’s public administrations. In 2010 Lundell warned that many public administrations fail to use open standards, resulting in a loss of information. One way to make sure an ICT standard is open, Lundell argues, is its implementation in a sustainable open source solution.