Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

June

11

by Kaj Kandler

While other states’ attempts to safeguard their documents by using open standards seem to have stalled for now, New York is the next one to try. Assembly woman RoAnn M. Destito (Democrat), proposes the state study how government documents are created, shared, and archived and how these documents can be used in a way that “encourages appropriate government control, access, choice, interoperability, and vendor neutrality,” in Bill A08961.

This means more consideration of open standards like ODF and ISO 26300, to avoid perfectly preserved digital garbage that can’t be read because the format is not documented and the sole keeper of the application creating it went out of business.

June

05

by Kaj Kandler

Computerworld writes abut the defeat of bills pro ODF in six states. The proposed legislation would have in one way or another mandated that state agencies in California, Florida, Texas,
Oregon, Connecticut, and Minnesota, need to use open standards for office documents. The only currently accepted open standard that is implemented by more than one vendor is ODF/ISO 26300.

However, lobbying by Microsoft kept legislators from demanding that electronic office documents are stored in non proprietary formats, so they can be accessed in many years to come. Interestingly, most legislative comments do not doubt that this is a worthy goal. However they do feel used by either side of the debate and their lobbying interests. So they squashed most bills without a vote. I guess the companies gathered in the ODF Alliance lost a battle, but they don’t declare the war over.

March

06

by Kaj Kandler

Californian Democrat Mark Leno introduced a bill that requires the Californian government be equipped to store and exchange documents in an open, XML-based format. This legislation would stipulate this requirement starting 2008.

Massachusetts was the first state that recognized how important it is to store and archive office documents in a format that can be guaranteed to be readable in 30 or 50 years from now. Software that reads proprietary document types can vanish with the company that produces it and the support from rivals to support this format will vanish shortly thereafter. This can leave you with a heap of bits, perfectly preserved on tape or other storage media which is not reproducible for the human eye. And after all that is the purpose of all document archiving. There response was to include a similar mandate in the id term IT plan, requiring storage and archiving of documents in ODF or PDF.

We will see how this proposed bill will work out and what it’s effects are. Currently only ODF, also known as ISO 26300, does fulfill the requirements as storage format. And OpenOffice.org is the most widely distributed program with comprehensive support for ODF. While there exist import filters MS Office they are currently limited to text documents (MS Word) and do not include spreadsheets or presentations.

August

02

by Kaj Kandler

Techworld writes “The Spanish region of Extremadura has gone open source, deciding to move its entire administration to Linux and open source software within a year.”

The region of Extramandura decided in 2002 not to upgrade its school computers with the latest Microsoft version. Instead they moved to a Spanish Linux distribution based on Debian. This saved the poorest region of Spain a chunk of money (70,000 desktops with Linux and OpenOffice.org as productivity suite).

Now the administration has decided to do the same for their IT needs. They stress that the freedom represented by OpenOffice and OpenDocument Format (ODF) are vital to their decision. “Vázquez de Miguel said the move was expected to make Extremadura’s government less exposed to forced upgrades, and would make public documents easier to preserve and more easily accessible by the public.”

One can only conclude they were satisfied with the functionality and the total cost of ownership.