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And California Makes Four

OpenDocument and OOXML
The big news of the day is that a legislator in California has decided that it is time to convince his colleagues that California should become the latest U.S. State to get on the open formats bandwagon. If the bill advances, it will the third such pieces of legislation to have been filed in recent weeks (the others are in Texas and Minnesota). A link to the California bill is here, and the full text appears at the end of this blog entry.  As defined in the draft legislation, the bill would require that "all documents, including, but not limited to, text, spreadsheets, and presentations, produced by any state agency shall be created, exchanged, and preserved in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format, as specified by the department." Significantly the bill continues:
When deciding how to implement this section, the department in its evaluation of open, XML-based file formats shall consider all of the following features:
(1) Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications.
(2) Fully published and available royalty-free.
(3) Implemented by multiple vendors.
(4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard.

Happily for all concerned, this definition is very close, and in many cases identical, to the open standards definition used in both the Texas and Minnesota bills. As I observed at the time that the original Minnesota legislation was introduced (which included a rather eclectic definition of an open standard),  it would do more harm than good for every state to enact its own definition of an "open standard." Were this to happen, vendors would have neither the incentive, nor perhaps even the ability, to meet the multiple procurement requirements that were legislated, dooming the process to failure.

Like the Texas (but not the Minnesota) bill, the California legislation calls for the appropriate IT state agency (in this case, the California Department of IT Services) to create guidelines for use by state agencies to decide whether a given product is based on "open, XML-based formats," which guidelines should take into account considerations such as cost, the need for public accessibility and the expected storage life of the documents in question. The language is identical to that included in the Texas bill in its current form.

It was 18 months ago that Massachusetts began this trend, when its Information Technical Division revised the Enterprise Technical Resource Model (ETRM) upon which its IT procurement is based. That revision not only required open standards and welcomed open source in its procurement, but also blessed an open document format standard called Open Document Format, or ODF. Since then, government procurement based on open standards in general, and the role of ODF in particular, have been very much in the spotlight. Later the same year, and open standards bill was introduced in Minnesota, although not voted on in that year. Not long ago, the sponsor of the original bill reintroduced a similar (and in my view, improved) bill in Minnesota, and a bill was also introduced in Texas, using an identical definition of open standards. I am told that a State Representative has now agreed to co-sponsor the Texas bill with the State Senator that had introduced the bill in that State, allowing it to progress to the next step of consideration.

In a final piece of ODF related news, I'm told that ECMA is likely to respond to ISO today. ISO is expected to then post this material publicly (hopefully sooner rather than later), which will finally make clear the number of national bodies that have submitted contradictions, as compared to other types of comments in their responses during the one month ISO "contradictions" period. It is this period (which ended earlier this month) that begins the formal ISO "Fast Track" approval process for the Ecma standard that is based on which the Microsoft OOXML formats

The California initiative was introduced by Democratic Assembly Member Mark Leno http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a13/ as A B 1668, and like the Texas bill, would (if enacted) go into force on January 1, 2008.

You can follow the progress of Texas S.B. No. 446 here

You can follow the progress of Minnesota H.F. No. 176 here.  

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

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BILL NUMBER: AB 1668 

INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Leno 

FEBRUARY 23, 2007

An act to add Section 11541.1 to the Government Code, relating to information technology.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 1668, as introduced, Leno. Information technology: open-document software

Existing law sets forth the requirements for the acquisition of information technology goods and services, and establishes the duties and responsibilities of the Department of Technology Services. This bill would require all state agencies, beginning on or after January 1, 2008, to create, exchange, and preserve all documents, as specified, in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format, and to start to become equipped to receive any document in an open, XML-based file format, as specified. The bill also would require the Department of Technology Services to evaluate, as specified, all open, XML-based file formats and to develop guidelines, as specified, for state agencies in using open, XML-based file formats.

Vote: majority.

Appropriation: no.

Fiscal committee: yes.

State-mandated local program: no.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS 

      SECTION 1. Section 11541.1 is added to the Government Code, to read:

      11541.1. (a) Beginning on or after January 1, 2008, all documents, including, but not limited to, text, spreadsheets, and presentations, produced by any state agency shall be created, exchanged, and preserved in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format, as specified by the department. When deciding how to implement this section, the department in its evaluation of open, XML-based file formats shall consider all of the following features:

 (1) Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications.

 (2) Fully published and available royalty-free.

 (3) Implemented by multiple vendors.

 (4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard

      (b) Beginning on or after January 1, 2008, state agencies shall start to become equipped to accept all documents in an open, XML-based file format for office applications, and shall not adopt a file format used by only one entity.

      (c) The department shall develop guidelines for state agencies to follow in determining whether existing electronic documents need to be converted to an open, XML-based file format. The department shall

consider all of the following: 

(1) The cost of converting electronic documents.

(2) The need for the documents to be publicly accessible.

(3) The expected storage life of the documents.

 
And California Makes Four | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
is email a document?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 28 2007 @ 09:08 AM CST
Is there a definition of
"document" in the CA bill? As written it would seem to outlaw plain ascii (or unicode) email.
[ # ]
And California Makes Four
Authored by: schestowitz on Friday, March 02 2007 @ 01:24 AM CST
Slashdot's title seems to suggest that the decision is final or irreversible. I hope it's true.
[ # ]