Amidst public criticism, Massachusetts finalizes open documents format compromise
Revised plan embraces both ODF and Office Open XML
Computerworld - The Massachusetts IT Division (ITD) officially confirmed Wednesday that it is moving forward with a revised state technology master plan that embraces both OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Corp.'s Office Open XML as viable ways to store public documents.
The ITD also released public comments received during a three-week comment period last month after it said it would add Microsoft's Open XML to its list of acceptable document formats.
Those letters take up 852 pages in a 16MB PDF document (PDF format).
Explaining the reversal
In a letter posted at the ITD's Web site and co-signed by Henry Dormitzer, undersecretary of administration and finance and Bethann Pepoli, acting Massachusetts CIO, the commonwealth acknowledged that most of the 460 comments it received about its Enterprise Technical Reference Model v4.0 dealt with that decision.
"We believe that these concerns, as with those regarding ODF, are appropriately handled through the standards setting process, and we expect both standards to evolve and improve," said the letter. "Moreover, we believe that the impact of any legitimate concerns raised about either standard is outweighed substantially by the benefits of moving toward open, XML-based document format standards."
Wednesday's confirmation caps a near-total reversal of the controversial plan first announced in September 2005 when then-CIO Peter Quinn announced his intention to ban the use of Microsoft Office by state employees in favor of productivity software supporting open document formats that he said were more suitable for long-term document archives and more accessible to the general public.
As early as a year ago, the state was already being forced to back down by advocates for people with disabilities, who argued that ODF did not support assistive technologies, such as screen readers, as well as Microsoft Office formats. Opponents of big government also argued that a forced move off Office would be costly and risky.
In a statement, Tom Robertson, general manager of interoperability and standards at Microsoft, said Wednesday's announcement allows government employees "the freedom to choose whichever format best serves their needs. The commonwealth's decision also reflects the fact that formats will evolve over time and that approved standards lists should also evolve."
Winners, losers, bloggers, and the Big Dig
Andy Updegrove, a lawyer and open-standards advocate, wrote in his Standards Blog that the outcome is a "regrettable" abandonment of a "principled stance."
Most of the comments received by the ITD between July 5 and July 20, after the ITD had already publicly announced its plans to make Open XML an acceptable open format for state use, also appear to criticize the ITD's decision.
"Keeping all public records in an open format is the most responsible action any government agency can take," wrote Don Casteel.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Cybersecurity Imperatives Reinvent Your Network Security With Palo Alto Networks
- The Rise of CyberSecurity
- 10 Things Your Next Firewall Must do
- Next-Generation Firewalls Defined
- Firewall Buyers Guide
- Operate as the core of your network security infrastructure
- Getting Started With a Zero Trust Approach to Network Security
- The Traditional Approach to Network Security is Failing. View Now>> All Government IT White Papers
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- All Government IT Webcasts