Open standards at Bristol City Council
Bristol Wireless’ secretary has just published the post below on his blog concerning his recent Freedom of Information Act request to Bristol City Council on the local authority’s use of open standards:
The reply was received in a record 10 working days and reads as follows:
Bristol City Council has been a long-term supporter of open standards wherever possible. We have frequently voluntarily adopted national government policy on open standards and open source, recognising the benefits of this approach.
We adopted StarOffice in 2005 and moved to the Open Document Format as our standard for office productivity files at the point it was incorporated in the StarOffice / OpenOffice.org products. We had to move to Microsoft Office in 2010 due to the lack of standards support in the local government applications market, partly due to the fact that national government policy was not mandated at local level and therefore did not have the desired effects on the document standards context. However we retained the ability to create, open and collaborate on ODF by implementing LibreOffice alongside Microsoft Office on all council PCs. Therefore we are already capable of using ODF to collaborate on government documents.
In terms of publishing government documents to citizens, we have historically used PDF, but are now attempting to replace all information, advice and guidance, and application forms with fully digital services. Over time this will replace old PDF documents with HTML. If there are documents that meet a user need to download and read offline, we can produce PDF/A format from the open source PDF Creator software that is also available on every council PC.
I’m very pleased to note that BCC has LibreOffice installed on every council machine. They kept that quiet! Perhaps they’ll use it to send me replies to my FoI requests in future instead of the propensity to use MS Office formats. But just to make sure, I’ll include a plea for a reply in an open format in all my future requests.