How to write a proposal for the Open Standards Board

How to write a cross-government open standards proposal for consideration by the Open Standards Board.

What is a proposal?

A proposal is a document written by the Challenge Owner to show how an open standards challenge could be solved with one or more open standards. The proposal should show how these standards meet the user needs, benefits and functional needs outlined in the challenge. It should also be useable as a guide for adopting the proposed standards.

The proposal will change iteratively based on comments from GitHub and the Open Standards Board.

The final version is published on GOV.UK as part of the Open Standards profile information.

How a proposal is structured

There are 5 main sections to a proposal:

  • introduction
  • user need approach
  • achieving the expected benefits
  • functional needs
  • other steps to achieving interoperability


This should include:

  • the approach or open standard/s being proposed
  • a short summary of how the proposed approach or standard would address the challenge
  • the outcome of adopting the proposed standards

User need approach

This should include how the proposed approach or standard/s would address the user need described in the challenge. Include who the users of this standard are and their specific needs.

Example: ‘Users in the context of this proposal include citizens, businesses and delivery partners who need to share information with government in editable formats.’

Achieving the expected benefits

This should include how the proposed approach or standard/s would achieve the benefits for users and the operational, social or environmental benefits that the challenge describes. Explain the outcomes that would be achieved for the challenge to be solved.


  • the improved quality in data would have an economic benefit as…
  • a standard format will allow users to easily share and add this information…
  • this saves operational cost in detecting and fixing errors in the text and provides more accurate information.

Functional needs

This should include an explanation of how the proposed approach or standard/s addresses the functional needs that the challenge describes.


  • URLs can easily be resolved to information about the thing identified… within browsers and with other tools.’

Other steps to achieving interoperability

This should include a summary of any additional legal, semantic or operational issues that you think we need to address.

Example: ‘Existing documents should be migrated to the formats specified in this proposal if they are re-opened for editing or are requested by a user.’

Where to send your proposal

There is more information about the proposal stage of the open standards process in How Open Standards are selected.

Send your proposal to the Open Standards team at

Published 15 April 2013