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Government IT projects must consider using open and interoperable software and data systems or face not receiving funding, under new Cabinet Office rules.

The Cabinet Office said on Thursday that from now on, civil servants must consider open standards for software interoperability, data and document formats and they should require their IT suppliers deliver systems that comply with open standards.

Government bodies will need to apply for an exemption to get out of the new rules.

The rules form the Open Standards Principles, developed following public consultation that wrapped up in June.

Departments that don’t comply with the Open Standards Principles risk seeing their projects getting kicked back for want of funding.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson told The Reg that the Open Standards Principles have been “embedded” in the Cabinet Office’s spend controls process from today.

“The CO controls are there to point departments in the right direction with regards to our IT Strategy. They provide a challenge and external approval function before departments can commit to expenditure, which will help projects from being delayed or reshaped,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, The Reg learned that Cabinet Office was rejecting IT projects where open-source had not been considered as part of the tendering process.

The Cabinet Office said exemptions to the principles would be considered on "a case-by-case basis".

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said in a statement on the principles: “Having open information and software that can be used across government departments will result in lower licensing costs in government IT, and reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products." ®

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