As I reported yesterday, the OOXML appeals brought by Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela have been rejected by the Technical Management Board (TMB) and Standardization Management Board (SMB) of ISO and IEC, respectively. I have now received the actual voting results for the IEC vote, and an indecipherable screenshot of the ISO votes. I'll hope to add the ISO votes later on when I get more comprehensible information, but in the meantime, here are the IEC results.
In each case, the questions included in the ballot were the same:
a) Not to process the appeal any further
b) To process one or more of the appeals, which would require setting up of a conciliation panel
For each appeal, a board member could vote "yes," "no" or "abstain," with only the yes and no votes counting for purposes of determining whether or not the vote would pass, and a two-thirds vote being required for passage (the "Conclusion" at the end of the voting results cites clause 10.4, Rules of Procedure, as the reference for these rules).
The inclusion of two questions in the ballot is (to me, at least) rather curious, in that each asks the same question in a different way, but with a "yes" vote having the opposite import. In the first vote, it would take two thirds of those voting and not abstaining to stop an individual appeal from proceeding, while in the second it would require a two thirds vote to allow the appeal to proceed. I confess that I don’t understand the nuance that is being addressed here, and perhaps one of the old ISO hands that sometimes reads this blog can illuminate this for us (although one wonders whether at least some of those that voted may have been confused as well, given the results).
Those voting on the IEC SMB were Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Sweden and the United States (the full IEC membership can be found here). The results were as follows:
Brazil appeal: 8 yes, 4 no, 3 abstain (the votes in support of hearing the appeal were cast by Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, and Korea). Accordingly, on a percentage basis, the vote was 67 – 33% against this appeal meriting further review.
India appeal: 10 yes, 2 no, 3 abstain (the votes in support were cast by Canada and Great Britain; Brazil voted against this appeal because the remedy requested by India was different than the one that it desired). The vote here was therefore 83 – 17 against further review
Venezuela appeal: 9 yes, 3 no and 3 abstain (the votes in support were cast by Brazil, Great Britain and Korea; Canada abstained this time). The vote here was therefore 75 – 25% against further action.
South African appeal: 9 yes, 3 no and 3 abstain (the voting was the same as in the Venezuela vote). Again, the vote was 75 – 25% against further passage.
One has to wonder whether various SMB members understood the difference between the two votes differently, because the votes on the second question came out so differently relative to the first. Instead, some votes switch, while others translate from an active vote to an abstention, or visa-versa (those that switched votes in one or more cases were Canada, China, Korea and the Netherlands) . I’ve "translated" the first votes and added them in parentheses below to make this more obvious:
Brazil appeal: 4 yes, 10 no, 1 abstain (4 yes, 8 no, 3 abstain). Accordingly, the vote was 29 – 71% in favor of advancing the appeal (compared to 33% in the prior vote)
India appeal: 11 yes, 3 no, 1 abstain (2 yes, 10 no, 3 abstain), or 21% in favor, 79% not in favor (compared to 17% in the prior vote)
Venezuela appeal: 9 yes, 3 no and 3 abstain (3 yes, 9 no, 3 abstain), or 25% in favor, 75% not in favor (the same as in the prior vote)
South African appeal: 5 yes, 9 no and 1 abstain (3 yes, 9 no, 3 abstain), or 36% in favor, 64% not in favor (compared to 25% in the prior vote)
Eight out of the 15 members entitled to vote, 8 included brief comments on their ballot. Sweden, which did not vote in favor of further prosecuting any of the appeals, noted that the same sort of confusion over process could arise again, and accordingly stated that it:
..recommends that a review of the Directives of ISO/IEC JCT [sic] 1, especially those governing fast-track standardisation will take place. This has been proposed earlier and has become more important now. The aim should be to get the JTC 1 directives better aligned to the ISO/IEC Directives.
How to interpret all this? Here’s the best that I can do:
- As many as 5 out of 14 and as few as 2 out of 12 voting up or down thought than an individual appeal should receive further attention
- One third of those on the Board thought that there were serious enough problems with the OOXML process to merit an appeal in at least one case (and two thirds, of course, did not)
- At least one additional members took advantage of the comments to recommend that the OOXML process demonstrated the need for procedural reform – a sentiment that has been widely echoed by other members
- Ironically (at least) the ballot issued to resolve the dispute appears to be as inscrutable and difficult to deal with as the process that was being appealed. In a comment to its vote, the Australian representative, while voting along with the Secretaries General recommendation, added, "The above voting set up does not clearly reflect the intention of such vote."
So, while the appeals are likely dead, I would certainly hope that the cause of reform will proceed.
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