Industry forms support group for OpenDocument Format

Agency CIOs and program managers who want to use the OpenDocument Format could have an additional source of support for making their cases to upper management. A number of vendors have formed the OpenDocument Format Alliance, which promises to provide resources for federal advocates of the open specification.

"The battle isn't convincing the CIOs [on the benefits of ODF]. It is providing the CIOs with the ammunition necessary to convince their superiors," said Ken Wasch, president of the Software & Information Industry Association, which is a member of the alliance. Wasch said a manager who sees the benefit in using ODF might have to justify the cost of converting systems to support ODF. To help, the Alliance will offer a range of white papers and presentations as well as "political support," according to Wasch.

The Alliance includes Sun Microsystems Inc. and IBM Corp., as well as Corel Corp., EDS Corp., EMC Corp., Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. It also includes a number of nonprofit groups, such as the American Library Association.

Last year, the Massachusetts CIO office experienced considerable resistance over mandating the use of ODF. Microsoft Corp. had protested the mandate, arguing that the state rigged procurement in favor of products supporting ODF, such as Sun's StarOffice and the free open-source OpenOffice.

State CIO Peter Quinn later resigned due to political infighting over the issue.

"If the ODF Alliance existed several months ago, Peter Quinn would still have his job," Wasch said.

Joab Jackson is a senior writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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