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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
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
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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.