Heterogeneous information and communication technology (ICT) devices can exchange information only if they adhere to common technical standards. Increasingly, governments are developing policies specifying the use of more "open" ICT standards within federal or local agencies. Academic analyses of open standards usually address economic and technical concerns. But technological design is also political. Technologies both embody values and, once developed, have political consequences. This paper employs democratic theory as a method of political and ethical inquiry into the political implications of openness in ICT standards development and adoption.