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7. Work in the open

  • Ensure the ongoing integrity of your work, by sharing the evidence, decision-making, knowledge, research, and process.
  • Use open standards and common government platforms where available and appropriate.
  • Commit to working towards using open source software.
  • Share source code where possible, proportionate to risk.
  • Make all non-sensitive data and information open to the outside world for sharing and reuse under an open licence.

Why it matters

Public services are built with public money. So, unless there’s a good reason not to, the code they’re based on should be made available for people outside government to reuse and build on.

Open source code can be reused by developers working in government, avoiding duplication of work and reducing costs for government as a whole. Publishing source code under an open licence means that you’re less likely to get locked in to working with a single supplier.

Working in the open:

  • builds trust
  • encourages ongoing peer review and sharing of insights as they happen, to inform other work
  • identifies issues or incorrect assumptions early
  • taps into the expertise, skills and experience of the broader community.

It also allows other organisations to see opportunities where they might collaborate, especially if they have common goals.

Use open standards, and common government platforms where available, and commit to working towards using open source software. Using open standards and common government platforms will help the government:

  • save time and money by reusing things that are already available
  • move between different technologies when needed
  • quickly and easily change a service when needed
  • give people a more consistent experience of using government services online
  • access a wider range of both open source and proprietary software vendors
  • eliminate potentially restrictive long-term contracts.

How to meet this principle

At a minimum you should describe how you:

  • identify and use open standards and common platforms (for example, Common Web Platform) and any reasons for not doing so
  • have a commitment to working towards using open tools that are accessible and have a strong developer community supporting them
  • understand common user needs with other services and meet those needs consistently with the rest of government
  • explain what data is used and/or collected and when it will be published as part of the Open Data Directive.

At a minimum you should demonstrate:

  • how you share your work, decision making, evidence and insights and invited others to provide constructive criticism (for example, through the web toolkit blog or other social media platforms)
  • how you provide timely feedback to your user groups about what you learnt from their contribution
  • how you ensure any contracts involved in the work allow for sharing of Intellectual Property (IP) artefacts such as documents, insights, code and graphs or visualisations
  • how you publish code publicly, ensuring any secret information like passwords are excluded from public repositories
  • integrate with any legacy systems.

Rules, requirements and directives to follow


Utility links and page information

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