January 4, 2006 2:02 PM PST

Massachusetts sticking with 'open' documents

Massachusetts remains committed to using desktop software based on "open standards" despite the departure of Peter Quinn, the state's chief information officer and main architect of the policy.

A spokesperson for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's office on Wednesday said there are no changes to the state's plan to adopt standards-based products for storing documents starting in January 2007.

The current technical blueprint, published in September, calls for the state to use OpenDocument-based productivity suites. OpenDocument is a standard created at OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) and not supported by Microsoft Office.

Quinn resigned from his position as CIO of the state's IT Division last week, saying that he had become a "lightning rod with regard to any IT initiative."

In an interview with CNET News.com in December, Quinn complained about the political dustup that the IT Division had caused.

"IT should be apolitical," he said.

He said that the scrutiny and political turf wars that the state's policy has spawned could create a "chilling effect" on other government officials who take unconventional stands.

The IT Division's endorsement of OpenDocument has caused controversy within the state and the computing industry.

A state Senate oversight committee called a hearing to review the decision-making process, and lawmakers have proposed creating a committee to oversee technical decisions, which would take power away from the IT Division.

Quinn's travel expenses were also reviewed late last year. He was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Although the state has not backed away from the OpenDocument format, state officials including Quinn have said that Microsoft's effort to standardize Office document formats could meet the state's criteria for open formats.

2 comments

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Look at the big picture
It is better for the world to embrace open standards than rely on proprietry technology. The Internet flourishes because it is open. Let's make documents open too, then like HTML it will be the basis for great innovation by anyone in the world, whether rich or poor.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
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No controversy
There is no "controversy" about the adoption of open standards. NO, REALLY THERE ISN'T. Read the public comments received by MA ITD. ONLY Microsoft and its paid (directly or indirectly) supporters oppose open document formats. This is another MS FUD attempt to prove white is black, against all logic.
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
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