July 5, 2006 4:00 AM PDT
Mass. holding tight to OpenDocument
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Pacheco, who presented the oversight committee's report on Thursday, agreed in principle with the benefits of standards, but he was sharply critical of the process leading to the OpenDocument policy.
Pacheco's report contended that the state's IT division set the policy without having the legal authority and without sufficient input from people with disabilities. In addition, he said that ITD officials did not perform a proper cost/benefit analysis before finalizing the plan.
"The principles of open standards may offer the benefits of decreased costs and interoperability of documents, but the ITD did not pursue the policy in an open, collaborative or lawful manner," Pacheco said at a press conference at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
He said that former Secretary of Finance and Administration Eric Kriss and former CIO Peter Quinn had decided on OpenDocument and deliberately disregarded the typically open process of choosing standards and technologies.
Quinn stepped down as CIO last December after facing political pressure, saying his presence has become a distraction to the implementation of the OpenDocument plan.
Gutierrez, who was hired to complete the implementation plan, said that the hoopla around the OpenDocument decision has had a "chilling effect" on other state CIOs. States have expressed interested in OpenDocument but are "waiting and watching" what happens in Massachusetts, he said.
"It's a mark of our times that technology decisions have become as important and interesting to the public discourse," Gutierrez said. "My own hope is that we move away from the theatre of conflict."
Gutierrez was named by current Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who will finish his term at the end of this year. Gutierrez said that it's possible the arrival of new governor could set the ongoing OpenDocument implementation off track, but it would only be a temporary delay.
"Massachusetts' stepping out on this in a technical reference model, saying this is where we're heading...triggered this firestorm we're all walking through," he said. "I really do believe this is an almost inevitable direction, and it's a question of when, not if. Even if there are a couple of spasms in the history, it's going there."
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