MA Secretary Trimarco Confirms Administration Support for ODF

I'm happy to exclusively report that the senior administration official in charge of the Information Technology Division has confirmed that the deployment of OpenDocument will go forward.

 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.

Administration support for ODF could not be confirmed until now. Only two brief statements by administration spokespersons had been publicly reported, and both were general, leaving careful readers to wonder whether the vagueness was deliberate or casual. After all, when both State Senator Pacheco and Microsoft began to oppose adoption of ODF, Governor Romney had sought to distance himself from the specifics of Quinn’s policy (“Our state decided on OpenDocument in the future, but we’re giving it time to be implemented … it didn’t come from me, but from our technology people who came to me “).

Similarly, ODF opponent and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin gave a warm welcome to news that Microsoft would submit its XML Reference Schema to Ecma for adoption as a standard. In light of this mixture of waning support and outright opposition, anything short of an explicit statement was especially worrisome.

What exactly had (and had not) been said? After news of Quinn’s resignation first became public here and at Groklaw, the Boston Globe quoted Eric Fehrnstrom, communications director with Governor Mitt Romney’s office, as stating simply,”We are moving steadily towards [the January 1, 2007] deadline and we expect no changes in [the ITD’s} rules.” Similarly, Julie Teer, Press Secretary to the Governor, sent an email to Washington Technology’s Ethan Butterfield, (apparently) stating only that “The administration is not backing away from moving toward open format software.”

But tonight, I’m happy to report that the official who has direct authority over the implementation of the open format policy, Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Thomas H. Trimarco, met with ITD General Counsel Linda Hamel earlier today, and unequivocally assured her that Peter Quinn’s departure “will result in no change to the Administration’s position on the ODF standard.”

Trimarco is the successor to Eric Kriss, who was Peter Quinn’s boss throughout most of the process during which the open format process was developed, debated, and finally approved. And he will be the official to whom Peter Quinn’s successor will report between now and the effective date of the open format policy.

Secretary Trimarco also confirmed to Ms. Hamel that Peter Quinn left his post voluntarily, at least in the official sense (I say “formal” because Peter’s farewell email indicates that the distinction between actual termination and his ability to properly do his job in the face of other types of action may have been a slim one).

With this statement from Secretary Trimarco, the path forward towards implementation of ODF will hopefully be swift, especially if the Secretary’s statement to Linda Hamel as quoted here is not only widely reported, but also repeated to journalists in the formal press in response to their own independent inquiries for confirmation.

[To browse all prior blog entries on this story, click here]


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