https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2012/04/26/open-standards-consultation-important-update/

Open Standards consultation – important update

On 4th April 2012, Dr Andy Hopkirk facilitated a roundtable on behalf of ICT Futures on Competition and European Interaction. Liam Maxwell, Deputy Government CIO, examines the appropriateness of this facilitation based on information which has since come to light.

Those in the Open Standards community will be aware of our recently re-launched consultation on which we have been soliciting your views since 9th February 2012. One of our first discussion roundtables held on the 4th of April (Competition and European Interaction) was facilitated by Dr Andrew Hopkirk who blogged about the event for Computer Weekly and who was engaged by Cabinet Office as an independent facilitator on a pro-bono basis.

Dr Hopkirk is a respected advocate for “openness and interoperability of systems, of people, processes and information technologies”. He has in the past, for example, been an invited observer at events such as Open Forum Europe.

However, at the time he was engaged to facilitate the Open Standards roundtable, while we were aware that he represented the National Computing Centre on the Microsoft Interoperability Executive Customer Council (along with 40 other CIOs/CTOs across the public and private sector who participate in a voluntary capacity) he did not declare the fact that he was advising Microsoft directly on the Open Standards consultation.

When this came to our attention we asked Dr Hopkirk for an explanation and he has told us that he has “not been paid to specifically write their response to the Open Standards consultation but he is engaged to help them tease out the issues”.

This could be seen as a clear conflict of interest and should have been declared by the relevant parties at that meeting. For this reason any outcomes from the original roundtable discussion will be discounted in the consultation responses and we will rerun that session and give time for people to prepare for it. We will also run a teleconference as well as a meeting to ensure that everybody has a chance to participate.

Furthermore the consultation will now be extended for an additional month. We would urge those interested in the Open Standards debate to fully participate in the consultation and you can submit your consultation responses here. The formal closing date for submissions will now be Monday, 4th June 2012.

46 comments

  1. Andy Hopkirk

    I feel it is important to add here my addendum to the Computer Weekly article (http://bit.ly/IPE7fE) in full which was as follows:

    “Disclosure: Personal statement – In the introduction to this article I referred to my experience with the e-GIF scheme “and others in mind”. I’ve been asked to clarify other associations. By way of clarification and noting that I maintain a strict firewall between the different activities I am engaged in from time to time, briefly: arising from my previous work at The National Computing Centre and since as an independent consultant, I do have a longstanding relationship with Microsoft purely on the basis of my consistently neutral, pragmatic, end-user oriented and supplier-agnostic perspective. I have supported, and continue to support, open markets, open standards and free/open source software for their contributions to furthering interoperability and IT market competition. I have not been asked to publicly or privately support any client brief or position in the government consultation.”

    Reply
  2. Mike Arcus

    Dr Hopkirk should resign from his role in this group.

    Reply
    • emercoleman

      Mike
      Dr Hopkirk is not a member of any group around the Open Standards Consultation. He was asked to facilitate a once off roundtable discussion on Competition and Open Interaction and does not have an ongoing role. You will note from the blog that any outcomes from the original roundtable will now be discounted from the consultation responses. The session will be rerun and people will be given plenty of notice to participate. In the meantime we would encourage you to submit your views to the consultation using the link in the blog post above.

      Reply
  3. Astonishing UK cabinet office blog post on round table « Sköne Oke

    [...] UK cabinet office washes its dirty laundry in the open. They accuse the facilitator of their controversial round table on open standards, Dr. Hopkirk, of [...]

    Reply
  4. Links – ACTA/CISPA Update, Other Crimes, Corruption and Failure. | Techrights

    [...] Open Standards consultation – important update One of our first discussion roundtables held on the 4th of April (Competition and European [...]

    Reply
  5. David Chassels

    WOW! This is a big step in the way Government now wants independence in views. Next step is ban analysts being employed in any government advisory capacity who feed off the vendor table! You know who they are …..

    Reply
  6. Chris Yiu

    Thanks for the update Liam.

    Readers might be also interested in attending the Policy Exchange event we have organised to discuss the issues around open standards – 6pm Monday 30 April at our Westminster offices. All welcome – RVSP for a place on the guest list, details here:

    http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/modevents/item/open-standards-for-open-government

    Reply
  7. John Beddard

    Perhaps the Open Standards Consultation Committee would be better advised to benchmark against the State of Oaklahoma. Where CIO, Alex Petit and his staff have just saved over a million dollars in procurement costs. Shifting their policy towards open source software, based on open standards.

    Reply
    • emercoleman

      John
      Thanks for flagging this case study we will have a look

      Reply
  8. Alex Weinle

    Excellent article, worryingly clear signs of attempts to de-rail the process.

    Reply
  9. John Beddard

    Thanks Emer,
    Oklahoma has been aggressive in delivering value for investment. Here’s one lead article :
    http://www.hd31.org/news.php?title=Oklahoma-Governor-Approves-Significant-Open-Source-Initiative

    Reply
  10. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | Dani News

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  11. Pete N

    You can not with with or for a company like Microsoft and still claim to be neutral Dr Hopkins should not have been even asked for an opinion

    Reply
    • Peter

      If you actually read TFA, he was never asked for – nor actually gave – an opinion. He was asked to moderate, which he did impeccably and professionally. I have worked for Andy for many years and he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would dance to anyone’s tune.

      Reply
  12. Peter

    This seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    I’d be surprised if anyone can honestly claim to be neutral (there is a consultation because people have points of view, surely) but Andy struck me as extremely impartial at the meeting, kept everyone to the agenda and on time. That’s what a good facilitator does.
    Microsoft had their own rep at the meeting so why would they need anyone else to blow their trumpet?
    The same cannot be said for Open Forum Europe, which seems to have a far too cozy relationship in this work and has not revealed its backers

    Reply
  13. Conflict Of Interest Derails UK Open Source Consultation | D69.cz

    [...] Cabinet Office has confirmed that the government’s open source conference routine [...]

    Reply
  14. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | Old News

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  15. Open standards consultation extended after conflict of interest emerges | Speculative Thinker

    [...] conflict of interest was announced by the government on the Government Digital Service (GDS) blog. Dr Andy Hopkirk had failed to declare that he was advising Microsoft – a company that has [...]

    Reply
  16. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | IT Support London | SupportWizard.net

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  17. root

    RAND terms are worthless in the real world. Since open source is the only real competitor to Microsoft, the RAND definition would be nothing more than a hijack by US based commercial software interests of the whole process. It is not possible to write open source software under such terms, and hence, any adoption of ‘standards’ based on terms that permit patents, would be at best completely worthless, and at worst, totally corrupt. Any standard that is adopted by the United Kingdom government must be compatible with the GNU general public licence version 3. If any adopted standard is not compatible with this licence, it should be considered non-viable, and should be abandoned immediately. This is a pretty simple rule, and should be applied anywhere that any kind of IT purchasing occurs. Clear conflicts of interest have been observed worldwide, as Microsoft has fought against standards that mandate any kind of competition. Given this unsatisfactory behaviour, I would personally like to see Microsoft barred from any further participation in government IT contracts.

    Reply
  18. Microsoft ‘tried to influence consultation’ | auicon.com

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  19. Microsoft ‘tried to influence consultation’ | IT Support London | SupportWizard.net

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  20. Open Standards Consultation | E RADAR | Smarter business online

    [...] Important Update [...]

    Reply
  21. maccad » Redmond man unmasked: UK.gov open standards stalled

    [...] Cabinet Office, which is driving the government’s digital change agenda, said it had found what could be seen as a “clear conflict of interest that should have been [...]

    Reply
  22. Will Roebuck (@ERADARtweet)

    I have known and worked with Dr Hopkirk for several years on IT/e-business-related matters. As the founder of E RADAR, an online e-business knowledge exchange and social network built upon open source software, I give him my full support as I have always respected his integrity and impartial work on standards.

    I completely understand the Cabinet Office’s position, but do not accept for one moment that there has been any attempt to derail the process. It should come as no surprise that Dr. Hopkirk has a working relationship with Microsoft given the esteem and respect he has across the IT sector.

    Reply
  23. Microsoft ‘tried to influence consultation’ | Apple

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  24. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | Speculative Thinker

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  25. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | Science & Technology News

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  26. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | Get Free Software

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some [...]

    Reply
  27. Why Apple won’t be Sony, Microsoft caught out and more | Nur, was da steht

    [...] Open Standards consultation – important update >> Government Digital Service Dr Hopkirk is a respected advocate for “openness and interoperability of systems, of people, processes and information technologies”. He has in the past, for example, been an invited observer at events such as Open Forum Europe. [...]

    Reply
  28. Microsoft accused of trying to secretly influence government consultation | Property Cloud | PropertyCloud

    [...] Thursday evening the Cabinet Office announced that Dr Andrew Hopkirk, who acted as a facilitator on some of the round tables, had not declared [...]

    Reply
  29. The UK’s battle for open standards | Share Blog

    [...] end result of the work of these two journalists is that the Cabinet Office has had to extend the consultation and, as noted by The Guardian, “rerun one of its discussion roundtables after it found that [...]

    Reply
  30. UK Public Sector – Procurement News Headlines — Spend Matters UK/Europe

    [...] independent workshop by the Cabinet Office, was found to be also working for Microsoft. Here is the Cabinet Office Digital website: However, at the time he was engaged to facilitate the Open Standards roundtable, while we were [...]

    Reply
  31. FRAND or FOSS? at OSS Watch team blog

    [...] is, according to the largest possible group of respondents. The deadline for this has since been extended after it emerged that a perception of bias might have been introduced by the conduct of the [...]

    Reply
  32. Andrew Hopkirk Exposed | Techrights

    [...] a "controlled opposition" approach which Microsoft uses to infiltrate and subvert panels. Here is a UK government site complaining about what Microsoft is doing: e aware of our recently re-launched consultation on [...]

    Reply
  33. Government Open Standards Consultation « Liberal Murmurs

    [...] consultation runs until the 4th June due to a potential conflict of interest which was revealed last month, and so everyone has time to influence government and ensure that [...]

    Reply
  34. Neil McGovern: Government Open Standards Consultation | Linux-Support.com

    [...] consultation runs until the 4th June due to a potential conflict of interest which was revealed last month, and so everyone has time to influence government and ensure that [...]

    Reply
  35. NRG

    I have had the pleasure of working alongside Dr.Hopkirk he has my full support and a consummate professional.

    If contributions to this debate, where there was no intended deception, are to be discounted from this round table then it is a slap in the face for true inclusive discussion and shows the face of the bias undertow that has been prevalent driving Open Source through this Open Standard debate. All opinion has a place, and especially from someone as esteemed as Dr.Hopkirk.

    This process is doing little more than moving the chairs around and falling between two in the act, it’s not the IT stack that is the issue with Govt IT it is the Procurement process that is having a disproportionately negative impact on IT delivery.

    Driving a hash up of an ‘Open Standards/Source’ agenda will deliver little more than a Software Apartheid in UK Govt IT and does nothing for SME’s.

    Further thoughts in ‘UK Government – Openly Disconnected’ http://blog.nigelgibbons.com/2012/03/21/uk-government-openly-disconnected/

    Reply
  36. Lajme Shqip

    great article and thank you for the update, as i see this is an explicit conflict of interest and it have to be discussed and resolved as soon as possible because something like this can effect the whole process of discussion of open standards

    Reply
    • Peter

      This demonstrates a poor grasp of the concept of “conflict of interest”: everyone at that meeting (or indeed any meeting or assembly in which they play a role as a stakeholder) held a “duty” to participate with the best interests of the meeting as their principal concern. A conflict of interest arises, if the behaviour of a participant is working, or gives the impression of working, against that interest or “common good”.
      Everyone at that meeting, myself included, had multiple “interests” (I have experience as a civil servant, and running an SME, and as a standards developer? “Must be up to no good…”; I worked with Apple? shocking! I built open source software? scandalous! I’ve worked with Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, etc…? terrible!…) and – where relevant to the debate (which means “because it might affect others’ judgement of what we say”), most people decalred that.
      It is not uncommon for people with very clear affiliations and interests to nonetheless work cooperative together in another forum, for that forum’s general interest – my own experience of that has been in numerous standards bodies – where you can be sure that any conflict of interest would be seized on immediately.
      As Andy very explicitly didn’t have a personal or institutional contribution to make, or a point of view to express, but rather was there to moderate, keep us to schedule, etc. I don’t give a hoot who he has worked with.
      Find me someone who can moderate (on a subject that they know enough about to actually moderate well) who doesn’t have an “interest” and I’ll buy you a drink! ;-)

      Reply
  37. Peter

    This was disgraceful – slurring Andy’s impeccable credentials as an objective professional. Why? Because one group of extremists didn’t get their way. Hardly a way to manage a consultation, giving in to the first malcontent. See my latest post at http://pensivepeter.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/the-open-ratchet-61/

    Reply
  38. Preparing a Response to the UK Government’s Open Standards: Open Opportunities Document « UK Web Focus

    [...] 27 June 2012: The deadline has now been extended to Monday, 4th June [...]

    Reply
  39. Open standards consultation extended after conflict of interest emerges - Government Tenders, Government News and Information - Government Online

    [...] conflict of interest was announced by the government on the Government Digital Service (GDS) blog. Dr Andy Hopkirk had failed to declare that he was advising Microsoft – a company that has [...]

    Reply
  40. Wendy Cockcroft Web Design | IPR: Cabinet Office To Host Round Table Talk In Salford

    […] On 29th May between 3.30pm and 5.30pm the Cabinet Office is hosting a round table discussion at MadLab in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Aimed at small to medium enterprises, the idea is to discuss the Open Standards Consultation, which is open until 4th June. […]

    Reply

Leave a comment