Mass. to stay the OpenDocument course despite CIO's departure

Summary:OASIS general counsel Andy Updegrove blogs: Only a few blog entries ago it was my sad lot to report that Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn had resigned, leaving the fate of his effort to mandate use of the OpenDocument format (ODF) hanging in the air.

OASIS general counsel Andy Updegrove blogs:

Only a few blog entries ago it was my sad lot to report that Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn had resigned, leaving the fate of his effort to mandate use of the OpenDocument format (ODF) hanging in the air. Tonight, I'm pleased to report, definitively (and exclusively), that the Massachusetts administration has confirmed that it will stand not only by open format standards in general (as earlier reported in the press), but behind ODF specifically as well.

Late last year, on the heals of the now infamous and truly scary Halloween hearing in Massachusetts, I wrote:

The second reason that ODF could end up scuttled has to do with Peter Quinn and Linda Hamel themselves.  Although I have interviewed Quinn, this hearing was the first  time I had the chance to shake their hands.  Although I didn't ask, neither strikes me as a politician.  As stoic as they were while testifying to Pacheco and Moore — and they were very stoic –  I couldn't help but think "What would happen if either of them decided for personal reasons that this fight isn't worth the personal sacrifice that it has so far been?" Although they were questioned with respect, it was clear from the beginning that Quinn and Hamel were not exactly in the good graces of Senator Pacheco.  I can't imagine that Quinn or Hamel ever envisioned or hoped for a day like yesterday.  Given that they are now the lone champions of the ODF decision in Massachusetts, they will need to have the stamina and the courage it takes to stay in the fire.  I'm not saying that they don't.  I glanced their way multiple times during the hearing and never once did I see a "What the heck am I doing here?" look on their faces.  But if either one steps down, ODF's future in Massachusetts will end up in serious jeopardy.

Although I hope the implications of Updegrove's blog are correct, I still stand by what I wrote.  One can't help but wonder whether whether Linda Hamel will be able to stay in the fire without Quinn at her side. I don't think this is over yet.  Particularly with Massachusetts' Governor Mitt Romney gearing up for a presidential run.  The vendors involved in this drama have already spent millions to affect the outcome and there's nuthin' like an election year to really get the warchests opened.

Quinn was the central figure in the Massashusetts OpenDocument Format controversy.  Years from now, when people look to credit someone for the most significant loosening of Microsoft's grip on the market for office productivity software, they will hopefully look no further than Quinn.  And by the way, it doesn't matter what technology or format we're talking about.  The strategic technology blueprint over which Quinn presided -- known as Massachusetts' Enteprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM) -- establishes the state's reliance on many more standards than just the OpenDocument Format.  Unfortunately, in the process of doing what all CIOs should do -- seek opportunities to rely on open standards instead of proprietary technology in order to give his employer more control over its IT budget, security, performance, and stability -- Quinn was turned into a politician and wrongly vilified in the Boston Globe in the process (the mystery of how that story came to be still remains unanswered. Who or what put the Globe's hounds on the hunt?).  

The holidays can be a real moment of clarity for people like Quinn when it comes to understanding what's really important in life.  He did the right thing. Hopefully, some other organization will recognize him as the champion of standards that he is, bring him on board, and more importantly, stand behind him.

Good luck to you Peter.

Topics: CXO

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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