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Call for volunteers to advise the Open Standards Board

The Open Standards Board aims to select a small set of core standards for government bodies to apply consistently to make services better for users and to keep government IT costs down.

The Open Standards Board takes advice from groups of expert users who form a Technical Standards Panel and a Data Standards Panel. These panels consider proposed open standards profiles, consistent with the Open Standards Principles, and advise the Open Standards Board on whether they meet user and functional needs.

The Technical Standards Panel focuses on challenges that relate to open interfaces and protocols for software interoperability, including document formats. The Data Standards Panel focuses on the semantic aspects of sharing and managing data and information.

We are seeking volunteers from business, not-for-profit, charity and academic organisations to join government officials on the Data Standards Panel and the Technical Standards Panel, in an unpaid voluntary capacity.

There will be a maximum of 14 members on each panel, with approximately 4-6 voluntary positions available on each.

We will appoint volunteers for a minimum period of 6 months. The volunteer positions will become vacant after the individual’s appointment period elapses to allow new volunteers to be selected. Cabinet Office may appoint existing volunteers for a consecutive period but this would be considered case by case and is likely to be exceptional.

 

What will it involve?

The panels meet every 6-8 weeks. The meetings are likely to last around 90 minutes and will mainly be held in London. Remote connection facilities are available for telephone or videoconference users. We will agree the time that meetings will take place with the members of the panel to make sure that we take into account availability - by agreement they may be within or outside normal business hours.

As a minimum commitment, you’ll be expected to review proposals before the meeting and to attend each meeting to discuss your views. You will be asked to provide expert opinion, based on evidence.

You will be required to work transparently with either the Data Standards Panel or the Technical Standards Panel as well as through Standards Hub. As part of this, we will ask all volunteers to publicly declare any relevant personal or business interests or affiliations which might, or might be perceived to, influence your judgement.

Obviously, we need you to commit to acting for the public good and not to seek to influence the debate for reasons of your own private interests or the commercial interest of a single organisation or group of organisations.

The chair of your panel may also ask if you’d be prepared to put in additional voluntary time to join or lead working groups to help the people who are developing proposals, for example through research, workshops or pilot implementations to test out a possible approach. You don’t have to do this if you can’t afford to commit the time.

 

Skills - who can be an expert volunteer?

We are seeking panels with a balance of technical skills and expertise from a range of sectors. Volunteers with a range of experience covering the following skills are most likely to be selected:

  • Understanding user needs - a demonstrable understanding of transferring user needs into successful open standards based implementations.

  • Specialist domain knowledge - for example developers, technical architects or data specialists with experience of implementing open standards based solutions related to the needs based challenges that are currently progressing through the Standards Hub or challenges that may be coming up.

  • Putting interoperability into practice - recent implementation experience of interoperable solutions built on open standards.

  • Making implementation happen - Knowledge and experience in current research or projects relating to open standards implementation, for example in building reference implementations.

  • Market awareness - a good understanding and experience of a technology, software or data marketplace and future trends relating to the needs based challenges that are currently progressing through the Standards Hub or challenges that may be coming up.

As we are looking for a mix of volunteers with different skills and experience for each panel, it won’t necessarily be the most highly skilled applicants in a particular field who are chosen. This is because the panels cover a wide range of topics.

 

Terms of appointment

This is a voluntary appointment for a minimum 6-month period. The period will be agreed with you and will relate to the pipeline of work through the Standards Hub. We will consider how your skills relate to the challenges that are current or suggested and how long these might take to resolve. You will be required to agree to our standard terms of appointment so that there aren’t any misunderstandings, for example relating to your declaration of interests.

 

Payment

These roles are entirely voluntary. No salary will be paid. As we will be offering remote access via video or telephone conference facilities we do not plan to reimburse travel or subsistence costs.

 

Closing date

You can apply at any time. However, we’ll be appointing between 4 and 6 volunteers to each panel in September 2013 for a minimum period of 6 months.

We’ll be considering the applications we have received up to 10am on 30 September 2013. Once the positions are filled, we’ll only review the applications when a vacancy becomes available. Unless you withdraw your application, we will keep it on file for the next time we plan to appoint.

 

How to register your interest

If you’d like to be considered for a voluntary role on the Technical Standards Panel, or the Data Standards Panel, fill in the online application form. However, if you would prefer to provide this information on paper or via email, please contact us for alternative formats.

We’ll consider the evidence you provide and will review the links to additional information you give relating to the experience you have and the projects you’ve worked on. If there is something we’re unclear about, we may call you for an informal discussion. We don’t anticipate holding any face-to-face interviews.

A team in the Government Digital Service along with the chair of the relevant panel will review your application to become a volunteer. You’ll receive an email to confirm if you’ve been selected as a volunteer for one of the panels. If you haven’t been successful this time, we’ll keep your details on file to consider for future volunteer vacancies unless you contact us to withdraw your application.

 

Diversity and equal opportunities

The Cabinet Office aims to be an inclusive organisation where every individual, be they employee, customer, stakeholder or volunteer is treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to providing equal opportunity for all. We will tackle barriers to participation in the organisation to create a culture in which equal opportunities and equal treatment are a priority for all staff and users. We seek to create an environment where attitudes and biases that hinder the progress of individuals and groups are dismantled so that we can work together in mutual respect and tolerance.