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Our meetings

Body:

The Board met to consider:

1.Proposals for two challenges;

    a.Open Contracting Data Standard

    b.Open standard for international development data

2. The open standards process and Board membership

3. The future role of the Board and open standards in Government

Summary of outcomes:

The Board agreed that 

1.The Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) must be used in the disclosure of data and documents at all stages of the government's contracting process.

2.The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard must be used for the publishing of government aid and development data.

3. The process of electing new board members and reelection of existing external members should start after the meeting.

4. The Board approved of the changes made to the process and the setting up of the GitHub wiki 

Declarations of interest:

The board was invited to declare any interests; 

Jeni Tennison declared that she was on the advisory board of the open contracting partnership.

Chris Francis declared that he works for a company that produces software used in the procurement process.

Open Contracting Data Standard

Nicholas Oughtibridge as chair of the Open Standards Panel and Warren Smith the Challenge Owner described the benefits of adopting the OCDS standard. These being to raise the quality of the information published during government procurement in a consistent and machine readable way and increase accountability in the system. 

The Chair acknowledged this introduction to the standard and asked the Board for their comments.

The board were told that when the Panel examined the proposal to adopt OCDS the issue of releasing sensitive data (see Panel notes September 2016) was raised. This was however outside the scope of the proposal and covered by existing information legislation.

A Board member noted that OCDS appeared styled to suit the United States and asked how it would match the UK's data needs. The Challenge owner explained that the code matched the requirements of for example Companies House and can associate with other open datasets.

A Board member questioned the possibility of a competing standard being developed in Europe. It was thought that there was unlikely to be an issue of a competing standard from ETSI or CEN-CENELAC that did not allow for translation between the standards.

The Board was pleased with the fit of the standard with registers activities. It was noted that there may be a second challenge around which data may be added to the base but this would be for discussion at a later date.

The Board was assured that the standard matched its definition of an open standard but noted that there was no patent policy published for the organisation. Though for a data standard this was unlikely to be a problem.

The chair was happy to accept this standard for adoption.

Open standard for international development data

The Challenge owner described the IATI standard and its development to meet the need of aid receiving countries to have comprehensive data available. The Board were told that there are around 500 organisations that publish data using the standard and that the standard is incorporated into the UK's aid policy.

The Chair asked how this would make life better. The answer given was that it made available a comparable machine readable data flow that can be used by end users and donors to better understand the various aid activities taking place.

The Chair remarked that it appeared to be the right thing to do, that it was in place and working, then asked the Board for their view of blockers and problems.

It was noted that there is again no patent statement published of the standard and if one was available it would be in line with best practice.

No other issues were brought to the table and the Chair declared that the standard should be adopted.

The Open standards process. 

James Stewart explained that in the years since the Board and the open standards process were established the technology and data environment in government has changed. There is a broader community in government that we would now like to engage with. In the months since the last meeting the team has been looking at the process. First to understand how things have been done and then to look at ways to simplify and document the process.



Changes made in the initial stage have been; to combine the Technical and Data Panels into one Standards Panel under joint chairs, updating the documentation and moving the existing Standards Hub into a GitHub wiki.



The next stage would be a more fundamental change, re-thinking how to engage with the community working in the area standards. This would take place after a few months research working with the Board and the community we have around open standards now.



The Board was shown a demonstration of the progress so far in moving the content of the Standards Hub onto GitHub by Terence Eden. The Board was in favour of this change to GitHub though there were some issues noted -



There should be a process to ensure that publications are exported to The National Archive and that the team should consult with John Sheridan to achieve this.



If ownership of GitHub were to change there would be a need to look again for a home for the Hub.



There was a further discussion on how to engage with departments and ensure that they were aware of the open standards work and that their needs were met. This would form part of ongoing user research undertaken by the team.



Engagement ‘should go beyond putting it on the web’



A user need identified in this discussion was for a register of open standards that went beyond that already published on GOV.UK and an explanation of the UK governments definition of open standards to help explain to third parties.



A Board member questioned whether there was a standard that described the Boards definition of an open standard, and if the board could help explain the definition. The Chair answered that there was a policy that defined open standards, and suggested that the best way to explain better would be short videos rather than a document.

 

Action 1:  The Open Standards team to engage with John Sheridan to ensure they meet archival requirements for the new Hub.

Action 2: Open standards team to produce an explanation of open standards as defined in the policy document to share with a wider audience. 

Board membership.

Over the last two years a number of Board members have left and the term for external members (non civil servants) has passed. This has left the Board with vacancies and gaps in expertise that need to be filled.

The membership of external Board members is now for renewal and the team will start the process of sending letters inviting existing members to rejoin. The process of advertising for and electing new members should be carried out over the next few months. This it was thought should be by both a targeted approach and a general advertising drive.

The board noted that diversity must be addressed by any recruitment process.

The board was keen for their function to go beyond approving the recommendations from the Panel and would prefer an active role in the promotion and development of standards in government. This it was explained was part of the user research around the process and why the recruitment of new members had not yet started. The views of the current board should be taken into consideration.

Action 3: Send letters to external members inviting them to rejoin (open standards team)

Action 4: Start recruitment process (open standards team)

Action 5: Open standards team to meet with members individually as part of user research.

Action 6: Share results of user research and the plan for the future of the Board with the members when available 

Attendees 

Liam Maxwell  Chair

Daniel Appelquist  Samsung Research UK

Paul Downey  GDS

Adrian Hepworth  ATOS (phone)

Chris Francis SAP

Matthew Dovey Jisc

Jeni Tennison ODI

Non-members attending:

James Stewart GDS

Nicholas Oughtibridge HSCIC

John Adams DfID (phone)

Warren Smith GDS (phone)

Terence Eden GDS

Lawrence Greenwood GDS

Emma Pearce GDS

Apologies 

John Sheridan The National Archives

Body:

This meeting was held to evaluate the following proposals:

a.Open Contracting Data Standard  OCDS

b.Open standard for international development data   International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)

AOB

a.How to deal with standard versions changes in the open standards process.

b.The open standards community group.

Summary of outcomes

1. OCDS to be recommended to the Open Standards Board

2. IATI to be recommended to the Open Standards Board

Declaration of interests

John Adams declared that he is both challenge owner for the open standard for international development data and a panel member.

Open Contracting Data Standard  OCDS

The Challenge owner introduced the the Open Contracting data schema to the panel.

The aim of adopting this standard is to improve the quality of the public sector contract data published and supply it in a machine readable format. An initiative by the World Bank created the standard. The standard is becoming more popular. Governments around the are world committing to publishing data using OCDS, including the UK government as part of the Open Government National Action Plan.



The Chair asked if the standard was already in use anywhere. The challenge owner advised that governments including the governments of of Mexico and Uruguay have implemented and that OCDS is also used for data in extraction and mining.  The OCDS web site provides details of other use cases. The UK has committed to starting using the data by October this year.

The Panel asked if there was access to the project schedule and budget for the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) implementation of OCDS. The reply given was that the steering group publish these in their minutes. The challenge owner had not seen these though offered to present if required.

Asked  whether there would be exceptions for sensitive contracts involving national security, the challenge owner answered that the commitment did not state particular exceptions. The panel agreed that the freedom of information act applied to such contracts and the data would not be published. The legal framework is in place to determine  which data are published. This should be stated in the standard profile.

The panel noted that there is a need to publish data on Contract Finder now and asked if there is a plan to fit this with OCDS. The challenge owner replied that this is part of the CCS Plan. OCDS would provide a consistent means of publishing data.

The Chair explained that the scope of this standard would not include the Scottish Government or English local government but that, if the standard is approved by the Chair of the Open Standards Board, UK government would welcome adoption by devolved administrations and local government.

The Panel agreed that the standard could be of use in publishing local government contracting data. It noted that the LGA does offer a service to local authorities of guidance in publishing data. A panel member offered to meet with the challenge owner to discover how OCDS could map to the existing local authority schema.

The Chair asked if historic data would be published in this format. The answer was that this was not planned for the time being.

The panel asked questions related to the answers in the standard assessment.

The panel noted that the test tool available tested the syntax but not the content of the data which is in part freeform text.

The Panel resolved to recommended OCDS to the board, with a recommendation that they consider promoting this standard for use in local government.

Actions: Add to proposal a note on scope of data to be published confirming whether it is in line with the freedom of information act.

International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)



The Challenge owner introduced the standard - The standard was developed to meet a need from developing countries to have available open data on aid given by donor countries such as the UK. The core need being transparency of what aid was received. The UK was the first county to use the IATI standard in 2011 and is now used worldwide. The standard is now at version 2.02. There are tools available to scrape and query the data.



The Chair asked who the standard developer is. The challenge owner advised that technical development is by  Development Initiatives of the UK on behalf of the International Aid Transparency Initiative. A consortium of members funds the standard and it is published under the creative commons license.



Questions from the panel included -



Is the data published in a form that allows processing. The challenge owner advised that the data is static information that can be transformed into dashboards etc.



Are there third sector organisations (charities and voluntary) using this standard?  The challenge owner advised that there are..



The challenge owner explained what methods are available to organisations wanting to publish data using this standard. These include open source and web based tools.



This is the only standard in this space;there is some linkage to OCDS however the IATI standard is specific to development data.



The issue of compatibility of versions was tabled. The panel was informed that there are quite large differences between version 1.x and 2.x but the available tools can import data from both versions.



There is guidance available to what data is published to deal with information that could pose a security risk.

The Panel agreed to recommend the IATI standard to the board

AOB



There was a discussion of how to handle new standard version releases and the panel recommended that this subject should be discussed at the next board meeting.



Update from the open standards team and the new cross-government open standards community Google group.

Panel members attending

Nicholas Oughtibridge, Health and Social Care Information Centre

Richard Crowther CESG

Guiseppe Sollazzo, St George's University of London

Tim Straker, Defence

John Adams, DFID

Matt Wilson, Matt Wilson Associates

Paul Davidson, Local eGovernment Standards Body

Steven Walters, HMRC

Raph Cohn, StormMQ

Robbie Clutton, Independent

Additional attendees

Warren Smith GDS

Lawrence Greenwood, GDS (Secretariat)

Apologies

Peter Winstanley

Peter Parslow

Steven Walters

Gareth Rushgrove

Body:

The Board met to consider:

1. Proposals for two challenges :

a. public emergency alert messaging

b. publishing vacancies online

2. A redrafted challenge for understanding government information.

3. A fast track in the open standards process for certain standards.

Summary of outcomes:

The board agreed that:

1. The recommendation by the challenge owners that a UK profile for the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) should not be developed. That guidance to be produced instead by the implementing bodies was       acceptable if conditions set by the Board are met.

2. The JobPosting schema must be used when jobs are advertised by government online.

3. The redrafted understanding government information challenge is ready to go through the open standards process.

4. The fast track process should be used for standards that are deemed eligible.

Declarations of interest:

The board was invited to declare any interests; none were raised.

Public emergency alert messaging

The Board discussed how CAP differs from the Multi Agency Incident Transfer (MAIT) standard.  The challenge owner explained that CAP is used in alert messages sent to the public from agencies such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). MAIT is intended for communicating between emergency responders.

Board agreed in the October 2014 meeting that a UK profile for CAP 1.2 should be defined. The challenge owners explained in a report to the Board that they now recommend against a UK profile. The purpose of existing CAP profiles is to constrain the national CAP messages to the requirements of existing alert systems. Instead of a national profile the civil contingencies secretariat (CCS) should stand up a committee of UK alert issuing bodies. This committee would formulate and propagate best practice for alert messages based on experience.

The Board debated the need for a specific UK profile. It was decided that although there was some merit in limiting the standard’s profile, for example in preferring XML over ASN.1 coding, overall decisions on which elements are used should be left to the implementers in a forum convened by the CCS

During the discussion a member pointed to the CAP IPR statement on the OASIS website. The CAP technical council operates under the RF on RAND Mode of the OASIS IPR Policy, but a notice from a company (Azos) claimed a patent ‘essential to the compliant implementation’ of CAP giving non-exclusive rights but no mention of royalty free license. The board decided that this issue would need to be clarified before the standard could be adopted by government.

Action 1. The challenge owner and the secretariat to work with CCS on the creation of a UK alert issuing bodies forum.

Action 2. The secretariat to seek clarification of the IPR statement on the OASIS website from the OASIS TC

Redrafted challenge for understanding government information

The data panel chairman presented the redraft of this challenge which in another form had previously reached the suggestion stage in the Open Standandards Process. The original challenge was judged by Board at the April 2015 meeting as too wide in its scope.

The newly drafted challenge was accepted by the Board to go through the process with its more clearly defined user need. Members suggested that the title of the challenge could be revised to include archival and retrieval and that the meaning of documents in this case should be defined.

Action 3. The secretariat to work with the challenge owner to revise the title and define what is meant by documents in the challenge text.

Publishing Vacancies Online

In the November 2015 board discussed the schema.org JobPosting schema. This was thought to meet a user need in government for improving job adverts online. The governance of the standards body did not meet the Board’s definition of open however. The chair took an action to write to schema.org’s steering group requesting that it align its processes with the assessment used on the Standards Hub.

The board has since received a reply from Dan Brickley of the steering group. The board agreed that this reply went a long way in satisfying the Open Standards Principle of transparency. As a result the Board recommended that the standard be adopted for use in online vacancy advertisements.

It was noted that this was a success for the Board as it was able to influence change in the governance of a standards body.  

The Fast Track Process

The Board heard an outline for a fast track within the open standards process. Suggested for use with mature standards proposals. The fast track responds to a perception that the open standards process duplicates effort in mature proposals where there are already well proven use cases. The fast track would allow mature suggestions to start at the 'proposal' stage with a standard ready for assessment. For challenges with an already identified standard the ‘Suggestion’ and ‘Response’ phases would be combined.

Both approaches allow for public debate and the same level of assessment as already in use.

It was also suggested that the data and technical panels be combined to make better use of the skills of the panels members.

The Board agreed that the fast track can be used when a challenge meets the criteria of having a mature proposal. Members clarified that mature in this sense can apply to both the standard and the use of the standard in government.

The Board noted that changes will need to be made to Standards Hub to enable the fast track process.

A member mentioned at this stage a related process item of legal issues that need to be taken into account by the process before the Board can approve a standard as open and for use in government.

Action 4. Secretariat to identify the changes required to the Standards Hub to enable the fast track process.

Action 5. Chris Francis to list issues in the process that may be missed by the CAMSS and Technical review.

AOB

The next meeting is planned to be in November 2016

If members have questions that need to be answered in the meeting they should in future put them forward before the meeting.

The Chair brought to the attention of the Board a communication from the EC;   ‘Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market’ that contained the statement that ‘ICT standardisation requires a balanced IPR policy, based on FRAND licensing terms.’  

Attendees  



Liam Maxwell GDS (chair)

Adrian Hepworth, Atos

Dan Appelquist, GDS

Chris Francis, SAP

Paul Downey, GDS

Jeni Tennison, ODI

John Sheridan, The National Archives

Matthew Dovey, Jisc



Non-members attending:

James Penman, Met Office (via phone)

Nicholas Oughtibridge, HSCIC (via phone)

Lawrence Greenwood, GDS



Apologies  

Adam Cooper, CETIS

Incorporates:
Body:

The board met to consider:

1. recommendations on four proposals:

a.exchange of property/place information

b.exchange of location point information

c.multi agency incident transfer

d.publishing vacancies online

2. the adoption of a fast track process for selecting open standards in some circumstances

Summary of outcomes

The board agreed that the:

1. Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) should not be adopted as an open standard. Instead, the Board proposed the development of an open register of addressable locations to meet the user need.

2. The European Terrestrial Reference System 1989 (ETRS89) must be used as mandated by the INSPIRE directive. For the rest of the world the World Geodetic  System 1984 (WGS 84) must be adopted. The Board also agreed that other coordinate standards may be used, in addition to WGS 84/ETRS89, where they more readily suit the user need, e.g. greater accuracy required for precision engineering decisions.

3.  The Multi Agency Incident Transfer (MAIT) proposal should be adopted subject to clarification for the board of the suitability of the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License to be applied to XML schema.

4.  The standard identified publishing vacancies online cannot be considered for adoption until the board has further clarification on several points relating to the proposal.

5. The board shall discuss the fast track process for open standards by audio conference in the second week of December paper.

Declarations of interest

The board was invited to declare any interests; none were raised.

Exchange of property / place address information

The chair of the data panel advised that this proposal had not been recommended by the panel as an open standard because the proposal is not suitable to meet all the needs of persons without a Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) licence. Without a PSMA license, there is no mechanism to translate the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) identifier to any other representation of the property or place.

A member brought to the attention of the board that a second, separate and incompatible system of UPRN exists, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), for the energy performance certificate (EPC) register. The chair advised the Board that he would take up the matter of the EPC UPRN with the DCLG.

The board agreed that it was not possible to implement this proposal without there first being an open registry that allowed the translation of UPRNs. The board agreed that an open register of property/place locations is an important requirement with a well defined user need.

Action 1: All board members to forward their suggestions by 27 November as to how the requirement for an open register for addressing can be met.

Action 2: Paul Downey to take forward a discovery project relating to the creation of an open register for addressing.

Action 3: The chair to take up the matter of the EPC UPRN with the DCLG. Secretariat to draft a letter.

Exchange of location point information

The board recommended that a combination of two standards expressed in the proposal is the most appropriate approach to meet the user need and that the coordinate reference system (CRS) must be defined when publishing data.

For the geographical scope of the European Terrestrial Reference System 19891 (ETRS89), ETRS89 must be used. However, for many use cases where the effect of continental drift is not considered significant the United States Government Department of Defense (DoD) World Geodetic  System 1984 (WGS 84) is functionally equivalent to ETRS89. Therefore, for the rest of the world, WGS 84 must be used.

The board recommended that other standards may be used where appropriate, for example when greater accuracy is required in a local survey by engineers.

The board notes that it is possible to map other coordinate systems to the standards chosen.

Action 4: The standards profile should be adjusted to indicate that in some circumstances, other standards may be used eg for accuracy in engineering use cases.

Multi agency incident transfer

The data panel chair explained that this standard is an electronic replacement for the existing method of passing detail of incidents between emergency responders by phone and fax. The board was advised that the schema proposed for adoption is made available through British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (British APCO) under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license.

The data panel chair advised that questions raised on intellectual property rights had been answered and that advice had been taken confirming that there was no requirement for notification to the European Commission.

The board considered the suitability of the license to be applied to the XML schema. There was concern that derivatives may include the schema extensions described in the MAIT 0.2.2 draft.

Action 5: The chair to approach B-APCO to confirm the compatibility of their intentions with the terms of the licence. Wording of question for B-APCO to be of supplied by the board by 27 November 2015.

Publishing vacancies online

The chair of the data panel presented the evaluation of the proposal and the panel’s decision to advise the Board to adopt schema.org/JobPosting as a recommended standard. An expected outcome of the standard’s structured data was explained. It allows job postings to be more widely disseminated and re-used without the need for bespoke web page scrapers. This would enable government departments to broaden the range of candidates for vacancies and enable citizens to have better access to job postings.

While the board appreciated that the adoption of the standard would have benefits, issues were raised about:

  • the openness of schema.org’s processes
  • the lack of alternative standards having been considered
  • the need to verify that the fields in the schema.org specification are likely to be useful in practice, for example in Universal Jobmatch.

It was confirmed that the challenge owner had involved officials from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the development of the proposal.

Action 6: The chair to write to the schema.org steering group and request that they open their processes to align with the assessment questions used in the Standards Hub. The Board and challenge owner to assist with the wording of this letter.

Action 7: Challenge owner to confirm which other standards have been considered and explain to the Board the reasons for them being rejected from this proposal.

Action 8: The challenge owner to confirm that the fields in schema.org JobPosting are useful in practice by confirming the schema is in line with the requirements of Universal Jobmatch by engaging the relevant people in DWP.

Fast track standards selection process

The fast track process was presented to the board. The implementation of a fast track process had been agreed by the Minister for the Cabinet Office prior to the last election. The purpose of the fast track process is to improve coherence with other governments and to increase the rate of standards selection.

Implementing the fast track process would depend on all of the following criteria being met:

  • either an EU member state having assessed and approved the standard,
  • or the EU Multi Stakeholder Platform (MSP) on ICT standardisation having assessed and approved the standard
  • a clear user need for the standards exists
  • the standard appears to meet the UK Government definition of an open standard

The fast track process differs from the full selection process by removing the suggestion and response stages and moving directly to the proposal stage.

Action 9: Secretariat to arrange a conference call with board members to take place by the third week in December 2015 to discuss the process, criteria and questions in more detail.

Any other business

For next meeting questions to be raised should be emailed to the chair in the week before the meeting. Note that the board members may also comment publicly through the Standards Hub during the proposal stage.

Members requested that papers be sent out two weeks before the Board meets.

The next meeting is planned to be in April 2016.

Attendees  

Liam Maxwell GDS (chair)

Adrian Hepworth, Atos

Dan Appelquist, Telefonica

Chris Francis, SAP

Paul Downey, GDS

Jeni Tennison, ODI (via phone)

Adam Cooper, CETIS (via phone)

Non-members attending:

James Findlay (via phone)

Nicholas Oughtibridge, HSCIC

Ian Churchill, GDS

Lawrence Greenwood, GDS

Apologies  

John Sheridan, The National Archives

Matthew Dovey, Jisc