How we select standards
The Standards Hub works to be transparent about how standards are set and to involve users at every stage.
Read more about who’s involved in setting standards.
Standards Hub users are involved at each phase of the selection and implementation of open standards for government IT. To see how you can get involved see the 4 stages below. You can put in as much or as little effort as you like.
Standards Hub users include people from:
- academic institutions
- charities and not-for-profit groups
- UK and international government bodies
Some users just want to use government services easily, but many have a professional interest in building on open standards that make different types of software and data compatible with each other.
A group of government technology officials decides which challenges we should work on and makes sure each has an ‘owner’ who can lead the work through to completion.
Government technology officials are:
- drawn from standards panels and may include technology leaders
- the people in government responsible for making sure digital technologies and systems meet the needs of the service users and department employee
- responsible for implementing adopted standards profiles, which are the outcome of the Standards Hub process
- lead the work to develop proposals and standards profiles in response to challenges
- work closely with a standards panel
- are suggested by the group of government technology officials and are appointed by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer
- are usually from government bodies but they may also be from not-for profit organisations that have an interest in the field in question
Panels work with challenge owners to evaluate proposals and advise the Open Standards Board on how they meet the needs described in a challenge.
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. For challenges that cover both technical and data aspects, the chairs will agree which panel will lead the work and may set up cross-panel working groups
Panels are formed of expert users from government or not-for-profit organisations, as well as experts who volunteer through the Standards Hub and are selected for their skills and expertise.
The Open Standards Board is working to choose a small set of core standards that will be applied consistently across the UK government to make services better for users and keep government IT costs sustainable.
The board includes expert users drawn from government and not-for-profit organisations as well as volunteers from academia and industry. They consider open standards recommendations from standards panels, making decisions on whether they:
- meet user needs and government outcomes
- give equal opportunity to open source and proprietary software
- are implementable, mature and supported by the market
- have been adequately researched and that the impact of adoption is understood
- support open data and are aligned with the Open Standards Principles and the Government’s IT/digital strategies
Read about the stages of the process of setting standards - and how you can get involved.
- Government technology officials
We’re trying to find out what problems users of government services face that open standards can help to fix.
The first stage of this is asking you for suggestions on what these problems are. You may included a particular standard as a possible solution when making your suggestion.
You can help us get started with just a few sentences about:
- what the problem is
- what the needs are
- what the benefits might be
A group of technology officials in government will consider your suggestions and look at the benefits that these might deliver. If they decide to take up your suggestion they’ll work with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer to identify and appoint a challenge owner to take it forward.
How you can get involved:
The process of selecting and implementing open standards is open and transparent. Register on the Standards Hub to view all comments and responses. Suggest a challenge to tell us where using open standards might solve a current problem or improve an existing service. You can also comment on others’ suggestions, and they’ll be able to comment on yours.
- Challenge owner
When a challenge owner has agreed to take up a challenge, we’ll publish it on the Standards Hub. This phase is similar to a discovery phase in a digital project.
You can review the current challenges and make a response, suggesting which standards or approaches might help solve a challenge. You can also give feedback on the challenge texts - whether the needs described accurate, for example.
How you can get involved:
We’ll select some suggestions to become challenges. We want your ideas on what standards or approaches would help solve the problems these challenges address. You can also give feedback on the needs described in the challenge - are there any changes that you think should be considered?
- Challenge owner
- Standards panel
The challenge owner will consider responses to the challenge, selecting one or more to develop further into proposals. They may merge several responses or come up with their own. They may also clarify the scope or provide more detail relating to the needs described in the challenge.
The Standards Hub will publish:
- proposals, which you can comment on to help challenge owners develop
- the criteria for assessing proposals, which will be agreed with the standards panel or the Open Standards Board and also published on the hub
- details of any workshops or other events planned to help investigate the proposals and to inform the next phase of work - the assessment stage
The challenge owner will:
- lead the work to investigate proposals, researching the approach and assessing the proposed standards
- work with a panel of experts (a standards panel) to evaluate the approach against the needs set out in the challenge
- with the panel’s agreement, submit a draft standards profile to the Open Standards Board, including references to the open standards it uses
How you can get involved:
You can comment on the proposals when they are published on the Standards Hub. You can also register your interest in getting involved in any related working groups or events for developing and investigating proposals. Edit your profile settings to indicate this.
Less complex challenges might only involve, for example, a single 90 minute workshop, with everything else dealt with through feedback on the Standards Hub. A more complex issue might involve a more regular working group or a pilot group to test an approach.
The challenge owner will let you know what is expected if you’re invited along to a session. Agreeing to get involved with one challenge doesn’t mean you need to get involved with others.
You can get involved in assessing proposed standards profiles through:
- workshops and events
- by volunteering to be a member of a standards panel
Everyone involved in working groups, workshops and panels is asked to declare any interests at the start of each session. Any interests are published on the Standards Hub in the meeting notes.
- Open Standards Board
The board will decide whether to recommend compulsory use of a standards profile, with the final decision resting with the government’s Chief Technology Officer.
Everyone involved in the Open Standards Board is asked to declare any interests at the start of each session. Any interests are published on the Standards Hub in the meeting notes.