New Acting MA CIO Appointed, and Full Speed Ahead with ODF

Massachusetts appoints an acting successor to Peter Quinn, and says more concretely than ever "full speed ahead with ODF"

There’s one big story, and a variety of other new stories, confirmations, related events (and at least one off the wall column) to report to those that want to keep up on what’s happening in Massachusetts.

First, tthe big news: in an article posted this morning, Martin LaMonica, of, reports as follows:

Bethann Pepoli has been appointed acting CIO of the state’s Information Technology Division by Thomas Trimarco, the state’s secretary of administration and finance, according to Eric Fehrnstrom, communications director at Gov. Mitt Romney’s office.

Pepoli, who formerly served as the chief operating officer of the IT Division, will temporarily replace Peter Quinn, who stepped down at the end of last month, citing political pressure. A search for a permanent replacement is ongoing, Fehrnstrom said.

The story goes on to report the most concrete statement thus far by the administration to the effect that it’s full speed ahead towards a January 2007 implementation of Peter Quinn’s legacy policy:

Fehrnstrom said the state remains on schedule for an implementation of OpenDocument-based desktop software in executive branch agencies. “There have been no changes in the commonwealth’s published OpenDocument rules, and we are still on track for a January 2007 implementation,” Fehrnstrom said.

Given that it is less than a year now until the effective date of the policy and the fact that there has been no announcement of approving Microsoft’s XML Reference Schema before it is approved by Ecma, that would appear to conclusively confirm that implementation of the policy, using ODF, is proceeding full speed ahead.

Martin had also independently confirmed that Massachusetts is standing by ODF earlier in the week, based on an earlier interview. To quote Martin from that story:

A spokesperson for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s office on Wednesday said there are no changes to the state’s plan to adopt standards-based products for storing documents starting in January 2007.

The current technical blueprint, published in September, calls for the state to use OpenDocument-based productivity suites. OpenDocument is a standard created at OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) and not supported by Microsoft Office.

A more lengthy article reviewing the roller coaster of statements and affairs in Massachusetts was posted by Jack Loftus of CIO on Wednesday, and appears here. David Berlind also gave his take on how the latest Massachusetts statement factors into the ongoing drama.

One interesting email that I’ve received in light of the latest Microsoft security breach (here’s one of the many articles on that topic from asks whether any other product that supports the eventual XML Reference Schema will be at risk of painting a hacking target on their back, given how tightly Microsoft’s Ecma submissions is locked on Office? In other words, if a hacker finds a back door that’s required by the Ecma standard, would you have stepped into the same mess simply by complying, as required, with to the specification?

Of course, that could theoretically happen with any specification, but the more granular the spec, the higher the likelihood. But the XML Reference Schema, as I understand it, is more detailed than ODF, in order to ensure backward compatibility and to otherwise serve the needs of existing Office users. And, of course, XMLRS is based upon a product of the most popular hacker target around.

For those that missed the earlier announcement by IBM that it’s its Workplace Managed Client will support Open Document Format (ODF), and its timely impact on the back and forth between ODF and Microsoft’s XML Reference Schema, there’s an article on those plans here

[Update added 5:00 pm EST: Sam Hiser has posted an entry at his blog on the establishing a connection between the WMF story and Microsoft’s Ecma submission that reads in part as follows:

Now, what I find shocking, penetrating & newsworthy is that there is a reference to an implementation of the WMF in the “Ecma spec” for Office “Open” XML. The reference falls in Section 14.3 of the 1900-page Ecma format specification where it discusses how a single WMF is stored in a file along with their Presentation ML code specification.

End update]


And now for that bonkers article. This is the second negative take by eWeek’s David Coursey on Peter Quinn’s efforts to convert the Executive Agencies to ODF. Coursey’s first article was titled The Open-Source Martyr Meets His Fate , and the following gives a sense of its tenor:

Well, we don’t have Peter Quinn to kick around anymore….Before you shed too many tears for the man, consider that he’s likely to fall up, landing a better job, for more money, than what the people of Massachusetts were paying him. Such is the fate of this open-source martyr, a man whose name has become known industry-wide, even if most people think he was foolish.

Pamela Jones excoriated Coursey for that article. Now, Coursey has returned to the same topic, reporting that he received some rather spirited email as a result of his first article, but then going on to make a number of statements that make it clear that he is not familiar with the use to which Massachusetts actually intends to put ODF � which is exclusively for internal purposes, as I reported in extensive article back in September in the Consortium Standards Bulletin, which used the detailed FAQ which was even then available at the ITD’s public Website and describes this use in great detail, in order to dispel the misinformation then in the market on this very point.

Pamela Jones has done a great job of contrasting Coursey’s statements on a point by point basis with sections of the FAQ, which you can see in her most recent story, aptly titled Educating David Coursey.

And, as Porky Pig used to say in closing his own sage thoughts on the events of the day, “That’s all Folks!”.

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


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