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Portuguese government consults citizens on open standards

Portugal’s Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA) is currently asking citizens to comment on several open standards, including document formats PDF, ODF, interoperability standards, plus standards for geographic information systems and electronic invoicing. Comments will be accepted until the end of October.

The consultation is part of the country’s open standards law adopted in April. This law requires the compilation of a list and some rules on open standards and AMA is using the consultation to get citizen’s comments. It will result in a regulation on national digital interoperability.

Portugal’s association of open source service providers (Associação de Empresas de Software Open Source, ESOP) is concerned that ‘secret lobbying (that will) override technical expertise’. ESOP is calling on the government to be transparent about the process and to ensure all remarks and observations are made public when taken into account.

Paul Meller, a spokesperson for Open Forum Europe, called it “one of the most enlightened laws of its kind in Europe”, in a recent article at Public Service Europe.

Meller stated: “Without the Open Standards Law, Portugal runs the risk of remaining locked into the proprietary computer systems of a few large contractors. During these times of austerity – it is therefore urgent that the country’s Council of Ministers approve the regulation and the list of open standards without delay – once the public consultation closes.”