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Equal access to public information for all citizens in Norway

Open document standards to be obligatory for state information

The Norwegian Government has decided that all information on state-operated web sites should be accessible in the open document formats HTML, PDF or ODF. This means an end to the time when public documents are published in closed formats only.

The Norwegian Government has decided that all information on state-operated web sites should be accessible in the open document formats HTML, PDF or ODF. This means an end to the time when public documents are published in closed formats only.

- Everybody should have equal access to public information. From 2009 on, Norwegian citizens will be able to freely choose which software to use to get access to information from public offices. More competition between suppliers of office programs will be another effect of the government's decision, Minister of Government Administration and Reform Heidi Grande Røys says.

The Government's decision is as follows: 

  • HTML will be the primary format for publishing public information on the Internet. 
  • PDF (PDF 1.4 and later or PDF/A ISO 19005-1) is obligatory when there is a wish to keep a document's original appearance. 
  • ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) is to be used to publish documents to which the user should be able to make changes after downloading, e.g. public forms to be filled out by the user. This format is also made obligatory.

- For many years, Norway had no specific software policy. This is now changing. Our government has decided that ICT development in the public sector shall be based on open standards. In the future, we won't accept that government bodies are locking users of public information to closed formats, Ms Grande Røys says.

The new demands will take effect from January 1, 2009 for state bodies. The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform will be working to formulate regulations making this obligatory for municipal organs as well. The Government's aim is that the regulations should take force from January 1, 2009.

The government decision does not prevent state bodies from using other document formats in their communication with the users, provided that the documents also are produced in one of the obligatory formats, ODF or PDF.

Heidi Grande Røys says that state and municipal organs as well should be able to receive documents in these formats from their users and partners.
- This is the first step in standardising document formats. We are also considering formats for document exchange with the public sector and for the exchange of documents within the public sector, Ms Grande Røys says.

A list of obligatory and recommended standards in the public sector according to the Government's recent decision is to be found in Referansekatalog for IT-standarder i offentlig sektor (Reference catalogue of IT standards in the public sector, Norwegian edition only).