Opponents to ODF strike back in Massachusetts

A Massachusetts Senate committee released a report Thursday criticizing the state's Information Technology Division (ITD), claiming that its 'unilateral' plan to move all state employees to use software that reads and writes files in the OpenDocument format was poorly planned, ignored the needs of handicapped workers and violated state law.

Also Thursday, the Danish government said it will launch a four-month pilot program in September to use the OpenDocument format (ODF), another part of the Scandinavian country's broad endorsement of open computing standards. The program will start with Denmark's finance and science ministries and possibly others, said Adam Lebech, head of the IT governance division within the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Denmark's decision follows Belgium, which mandated last week that its federal agencies must use software that can read ODF documents by September 2007.

In Massachusetts, the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, headed by state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, released a report entitled 'Open Standards, Closed Government: ITD's Deliberate Disregard for Public Process.'

The report criticizes the ITD for failing to evaluate the cost of the proposal, the impact it could have on the state's public records, limitations on IT accessibility for the disabled, and ultimately for violating state law.

State CIO Louis Gutierrez did not return calls for comment.