The ISO Process and Schedule for ODF Comment Reconciliation

Since I posted yesterday's blog entry about Microsoft joining the ISO voting comments reconciliation subcommittee, I've received some questions about how that process works, and how long it will take. For the answers, I turned once again to Patrick Durusau, the Chairman of the subcommittee, and the Project Editor for the OpenDocument Format submission. And once again he was kind enough to supply the answer, which I reproduce here in full (thanks, Patrick).

 I have been asked about the current status of ODF in the ISO process and the calendar for action on that submission.

ODF was submitted by OASIS to ISO JTC 1 under what is known as a PAS submission. Such submissions are governed by a specific set of rules and procedures.

It was duly balloted and notices were sent to the appropriate National Bodies.

By way of brief introduction, and as described in greater detail in yesterday’s blog entry, ISO is a global standards body, and adoption votes are cast by the national representatives of nations that are members of ISO. In some countries, the member entity may be a government agency, and in others it may be an association (for example, in the United States, it is ANSI, the American National Standards Institute). The vote itself is not an up or down vote to either accept the offered standard or reject it as is. Instead, those that vote can make comments, and those comments are then considered prior to final approval. That reconciliation process is governed by its own process rules and process schedule, which is what Patrick summarizes as follows:

The votes on those ballots are due on May 1, 2006. The votes and any comments will be communicated to the appropriate parties in the ISO process.

Once the votes and comments have been distributed, a ballot resolution meeting will be held to resolve any comments and to determine the text of ODF that will be issued as an International Standard.

The scheduling of the ballot resolution was discussed in SC 34 (a subcommittee of JTC1) and unfortunately the early discussion of a date for that meeting was based on a clerical error in reading the required time delay between the vote and the ballot resolution meeting. The JTC 1 directives were drafted prior to the immediate communication afforded by email and sets a minimum period of two and one-half months between the distribution of the voting results (including comments) and a ballot resolution meeting if necessary.

The return date for votes and comments being May 1, when considered with the JTC 1 rule on scheduling of a ballot resolution meeting *not less than* two and one-half months after distribution of the voting results (including comments) means that the original SC 34 discussion was based on an incorrect reading of the relevant JTC 1 directive.

Assuming agreement on the final text, which is the goal of the ballot resolution meeting, the Convener of the ballot resolution committee (Martin Bryan) and I (as Project Editor) have thirty (30) days to prepare the final report from the ballot resolution meeting and the final text of ODF to be published as an International Standard. Those items are then distributed by the SC 34 Secretariat.

The ballot resolution meeting is most likely going to occur in early August to conform to the two and one-half month requirement. Note that the scheduling of the ballot resolution meeting depends upon the date of the distribution of the voting results and so there is some uncertainty at this point on the exact dates for the ballot resolution meeting. That is a clerical issue and not one of substance.

As things move forward, I’ll provide updates as appropriate.

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