January 31, 2006 6:31 AM PST

Mass. hands OpenDocument reins to new CIO

Massachusetts has named a permanent chief information officer, who will be in charge of carrying out the state's OpenDocument policy.

The administration of Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday that it has appointed Louis Gutierrez as CIO. Gutierrez, who will to begin his new job on Feb. 6, replaces acting CIO Bethann Pepoli, who will become deputy CIO.

"Gutierrez will be responsible for overseeing the final stages of implementation of the state's new OpenDocument format proposal, to go into effect in January 2007," according to the press release announcing the change.

The appointment of Massachusetts technology managers has taken on international significance because of the state's decision last year to standardize its productivity applications on OpenDocument format.

The lastest version of the state IT division's policy calls for all documents created by state executive branch agencies to be saved in the OpenDocument format in January of next year. Massachusetts chose OpenDocument because it is developed in a standards organization rather than controlled by a single company, according to officials.

That decision has been contested by state politicians, leading to the resignation of Peter Quinn, the former CIO and one of the main architects of the plan.

The policy is also a potential blow to Microsoft, the dominant supplier of desktop applications, because Microsoft does not intend to natively support OpenDocument in Office 12, which is due for release in the second half of the year. State technology officials, however, have voiced their support for Microsoft's move to standardize Office 12 documents.

Gutierrez is currently the chief technology strategist at the Commonwealth Medicine Division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Before taking that post, Gutierrez was CIO for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services where he spearheaded the creation of an online portal called Virtual Gateway, which integrated the Web sites of 16 agencies. He is a graduate of Harvard and of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.

In a statement, Gutierrez endorsed the state IT division's embrace of standards.

"The Virtual Gateway is an example of how state government computing can be transformed through the application of open standards that interoperate with many kinds of technology and vendors," Gutierrez said in his statement.

Romney spokesman Felix Browne said Tuesday that "planning for the move to OpenDocument continues to be on track and (Gutierrez) will do what has to be done to move forward."

Romney will not run for reelection in Massachusetts and will step down at the end of this year. Because the CIO position is an executive branch appointment, the incoming governor next year could name a new CIO, Browne confirmed.

5 comments

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Politics and Grandstanding
This entire fiasco is about nothing more than politics and grandstanding. So what that Microsoft has the best applications for the office? The entire state government is a bunch of no nothing ninnies.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
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Great news!
I really want to see this be succesful.

And the Dominos fall...
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
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Indeed it is, good for everyone involved including MS
I think the statement by Gutierrez, "...through the application of open standards that interoperate with many kinds of technology and vendors" signals that it is not an all or nothing proposition and that bodes well for the disabled, ODF and Microsoft.
Posted by robertcampbell2 (103 comments )
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Native Support question
The article stated that Microsoft wouldn't support the OpenDocument standard natively, does that mean that there could be a plugin or something like that so that MSOffice will support it?
Posted by Leekolas (9 comments )
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Microsoft and OpenDocument
Microsoft has said that they will rely on third-party "filters" to read OpenDocument-formatted documents. They haven't mentioned any specific companies by name.
Posted by mlamonica (330 comments )
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