As I reported recently, the Massachusetts ITD has announced its intention to add Microsoft's OfficeOpen XML specification (now Ecma 376) to its list of approved "open standards," subject to a very short comment period that will expire on July 20. I have great concern that such a decision may be as influential outside of Massachusetts as was the original decision by the ITD in August of 2005 to include ODF, and exclude OOXML. That first decision raised the credibility and visibility of ODF dramatically, and it is fair to say that all of the later successes of ODF were made possible by that decision.
While the ITD has now announced that it believes that Ecma 376 has met its requirements, it is important to note that two years ago it reversed a similar conclusion as a result of energetic public input. That can happen again, and interim CIO Bethan Pepoli has stated as much in a widely reported quote.
Whether the ITD truly believes that Ecma 376 meets its requirements, or whether it has finally folded to the significant and ongoing pressure to which it has long been subjected cannot be known. But what is clear to me is that if enough people provide carefully considered and persuasive comments to the ITD prior to the expiration of the comment period, the ITD will be given an opportunity and the "cover" to reverse its position if it so wishes.
Preparing such comments is time consuming, but it is also important. I took several hours to do so yesterday, and have just sent them to the ITD. You can to, and I hope that you will. The ITD's comment address is email@example.com, and the deadline is next Friday. If you're a believer in open standards, please don't let that deadline pass without making your thoughts known.
Here are the comments that I sent in: