The Government has had to extend its consultation on defining open standards and how they can be used in its IT, after a discussion facilitator failed to disclose their links with Microsoft.
As part of the consultation, Andrew Hopkirk led an 'open standards: open opportunities' roundtable on 4 April, however it subsequently emerged he was advising Microsoft, the Cabinet Office said on Thursday.
"This could be seen as a clear conflict of interest and should have been declared by the relevant parties at that meeting," the Cabinet Office Digital Engagement team wrote in a blog post on Thursday. "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."
Hopkirk told the Cabinet Office he was "engaged [with Microsoft] to help them tease out the issues," but had not been paid by the company to write a response to the consultation.
As a consequence, the consultation has been extended for an additional month. It will now close on 4 June 2012. Guidelines to responding to the consultation can be found on the Cabinet Office's microsite.
The consultation on defining open standards for government IT was launched in February. "No lobbying has taken place (from any organisation) that has affected our approach in creating an open standards definition that works for government," a Cabinet Office spokesman told ZDNet UK at the time.
The government withdrew an earlier definition of open standards after alleged lobbying by Microsoft, Computer Weekly reported in January.