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Document Freedom Award for Slovak Commission for Standardization

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The Free Software Foundation Europe awarded the Slovak Commission for Standardization of the Public Administration Information Systems and its working groups with the Document Freedom Award this week. The Commission was awarded for its long standing commitment and achieved results in the field of the Open Standards. The prize was presented on the occasion of Document Freedom Day, the international day of Open Standards.

SlovakDFDprize From left: Martin Husovec (FSFE), Miloš Molnár (chair of the Commission) a Peter Bíro (deputy chair of the Commission).

The award aims to internationaly recognize the work of the Slovak Commission for Standardization, its working groups and independent experts, who participate at its activities. “When I was explaining the activities of the Commission to my colleagues in the FSFE, they were very enthusiastic. It was suprising for them that Slovakia has in principle only one forum for the standardization processecs of a public administration systems, that results of this forum are of such a quality and finally, that Ministry of Finance is equipted with a sanction mechanism in order to assure the real functioning of this entire framework” said Martin Husovec, Slovak representative of the FSFE during the ceremony in Bratislava.

The chair of the Commission for Standardization, Miloš Molnár and his deputy chair, Peter Bíro, felt pleased to receive the plaque and the cake on the occasion of Document Freedom Day. At the ceremony, several members of the Commission and its working groups were present. The chair, Miloš Molnár, stressed the contribution of the deputy chair, Peter Bíro, who is in his words, responsible for a significant contribution to the results of the Commission since 2005.

SlovakDFDprize The plaque and the Document Freedom cake with the DFD logo on top.

The representatives of the Commission were delighted to hear that the results and activities of the Commission are of the interest even outside of Slovak borders. At the same time, they indicated the basic tasks and issues, which the Commission has to deal with in the present days. In particular, it was mentioned that the Commission wishes to see more active and learned members from the civil society to assist the Commission. Martin Husovec from the FSFE presented the Commission a concrete suggestion to “engage for the future also other institutions, such as public libraries, improve the current engagement of associations of visually impaired persons and to enable better represantation of citizens, so the discussion could better reflect also their view-point and needs”. The representatives of the Commission stated, that they are considering to invite further experts to the Commission and that they are also in touch with several different organizations. The representative of FSFE also suggested that the Commission could create a transparent online system for record-keeping of incompliance of the public administration with Open Standards. This system could, in his words, disburden the Commission and enable the citizens to directly affect the Open Standards compliance for the future.

Representatives of the FSFE and the Commission agreed that it is highly desirable to support the sucessful standardization activities in the public administration by allocating more human resources from the side of the government as the current status is underdesigned. The chair of the Commission, Miloš Molnár, said that this need is extraordinary important in the present in regard to the planned digitalization of the cultural heritage. Because in this project, the failure to secure the standards compliance could lead to catastrophic implications for the society and the digitalization project itself. He also added that current financial sanctioning system is not being widely used and the Ministry of Finance rather tries to positively motivate, but often have to face misunderstanding from the other public bodies. The participation of the public in this process could greatly help, he said.

About Document Freedom Day (DFD)

Document Freedom Day (DFD) campaigns to celebrate information accessibility and introduce non-technical audiences to Open Standards. Open Standards are a basic condition for the freedom of choice in software, to ensure the freedom to access data, and the freedom to build Free Software by reading and writing information. Since 2008, DFD is celebrated around the world on the last Wednesday of March. The awarding of the Slovak Commission was one event out of more then 50 in over 20 different countries.

About the Commission for Standardization

The Slovak Commission for Standardization of the Public Administration Information Systems is an advisory and consultative body of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic. It adopts proposals of standards, which are, after possible changes, issued by the Ministry of Finance as the obligatory legal rules. The public administration is then governed by these standards in the field of information technology issues. In the case of incompliance, Ministry of Finance may impose sanctions from 2 000 EUR up to 35 000 EUR. The Commission was already formed in 2005 under the Ministry of Transportation, Post and Telecommunication. Since 2007 it operates under the Ministry of Finance. The Commission has 18 members, 15 of whom are the employees of various state organizations. The non-governmental representation in the Commission is assured by the presence of other organizations: professional associations of legal persons – IT Slovak Association, civil association Slovak Informatics Society and civil association The Society for Open Information Technologies. The Commission also has 9 working groups, which consider the technical details of individual standards.

About the standards issued by the Commission:

The standards defined in the Regulations on Standards specify the duties for public administration during its communication with the public, online publication and mutual communication between the bodies of public administration. The regulation also stipulates some rules for the internal operation of information systems, for example in the area of security. The regulation significantly improves the interoperability of various information systems of different public administration organizations in Slovakia. The Open Standards guarantee the public, including handicaped people, that they have a proper access to all provided and published information.

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