While the Government of Canada (GC) is moving ahead with the idea of open data, I think the GC is missing a significant related strategy. Other governments that have taken a leading role in developing their open data policies also address the importance of Open Information and Communication Technologies Standards.
Looking at the Government of Canada Chief Information Officer Branch or the shared services agency, I found no evidence of a policy or strategy for this. Many references to the need for standardization, but what does that mean? Simply eliminating choices by standardizing on existing GC solutions that are most prevalent? From the
2009 Directive on Management of Information Technology, it does appear someone had the idea: "Aligning departmental IT management practices, processes and technology architecture with federal government strategy, directions, standards and guidelines as they become available and as they evolve under the guidance of the Chief Information Officers Council". But where is the meat, 5 years later?
Perhaps we should follow UK's lead as they have well articulated published strategies and policies. And they make their documents available under a permissive license. I think we should make an effort to examine, adapt, translate and adopt these. Knowing the benefits from the adoption of open standards (and the UK documents explain this well), this should not be ignored any longer, risking the efforts for cost savings from IT consolidation not realizing the potential due to a lack of adoption of open information and communications technologies (ICT) standards, and risking not fully realizing the opportunities from open data due to vendor lock-ins or licensing issues in implementing solutions utilizing the available data.
The UK and many EU member states have adopted policies to give preferences to ICT standards developed in an open collaborative and transparent process and available royalty free. We should do the same and benefit from a better and clearer government IT strategy.
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