Feeds

UK.gov coder defines open standards: 'A lot like porn'

If you can think of it, there's an open standard of it?

Security for virtualized datacentres

TransferSummit As the government works on drawing up yet another definition for open standards, the man in charge of the Cabinet Office's team of IT coders is keen to talk about a future where all government tech is based on, well, open standards.

On the current definition of open standards, Mark O'Neill – who was speaking at the open source TransferSummit event in Oxford – said:

"It's a lot like pornography: you know it when you see it."

Mark O'Neill, who heads up the Cabinet Office skunkworks group, said a budget for the team's next phase of work had been signed off.

So far the skunkworks talent pool has cost £400,000.

Now O'Neill is keen to get venture capitalists to provide funding for future public sector projects.

He admitted that VCs aren't interested in investing in government projects because, they say, the market isn't open enough.

O'Neill said the recently launched e-petitions website created by his skunkworks team was an example of how government projects should operate in the future.

He added that the site has had 3.8 million visitors, 20 million page views, 16,000 petitions and 1.5 million signatures at a cost of £80,000 to the taxpayer.

"At peak it gets as much traffic as Directgov," he explained.

Last month, at launch, the site was marred by downtime. Despite that, O'Neill said the project has proved a success.

He said the open source code used for the e-petitions website would be released soon.

But the skunkworks team is a very small part of Big Government, and the fact that O'Neill is calling on private funding may leave his team's work open to criticism that it is just a Cabinet Office vanity project, bereft of government investment.

O'Neill, who is not shy of referring to taxpayers as "customers", said that the procurement process within government can be a bit like asking for a beef sandwich and then being given a cow.

He said few people talked to each other about government IT. "Everyone’s trapped in their own little silo," he added.

On finding cash for IT projects, O'Neill claimed that government needed "to change its relationship with the market. Procurement is not always the right answer. There are other ways of engaging the market."

He admitted that the Cabinet Office knows where the problems are, but said convincing people across government to change remained a huge challenge.

One member of the audience noted that the skunkworks team lacked money, faced vendor lock-in and was simply "tinkering at the edges" with its projects.

"We have a group of ministers who are willing to say ‘you know what, they’re having a laugh’. They're willing to challenge contracts and break them," claimed O'Neill. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.