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.