Massachusetts CIO quits amid OpenDocument debate

A key figure in efforts to move the state to the open-standards format has resigned following controversy over the initiative.

Peter Quinn has resigned from his post as chief information officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to avoid further mudslinging over the state's controversial efforts to move to OpenDocument.

Quinn said that he was resigning to avoid being the personal focus of the controversy surrounding Massachusetts' move to open standards, according to a story in Wednesday's Boston Globe.

"It is readily apparent that I have become a lightning rod with regard to any IT initiative. Even the smallest initiatives are being mitigated or stopped by some of the most unlikely and often uninformed parties," Quinn said in an e-mail, sent to the state's IT department, that was cited in the Globe story.

"The last thing I can let happen is my presence be the major contributing factor marginalizing the good work of ITD (IT division) and the entire IT community," Quinn wrote.

A spokesman for the state confirmed that Quinn had submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 12, according to the Globe.

Eric Kriss, the former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance who was Quinn's boss during much of the OpenDocument evaluation process, said that Quinn found it difficult to handle the personal attacks that followed the state's high profile move.

"I met with Peter briefly on December 21, prior to his decision, and he indicated to me he was extremely uncomfortable with the personal attention surrounding the open format controversy. Peter is an IT professional who is not accustomed to the rough-and-tumble world of politics," said Kriss in an interview with IT law site Groklaw.

Quinn was particularly affected by an earlier report that Massachusetts officials were looking into whether he had taken unauthorized trips to conferences, according to Kriss. Quinn was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

"He found the last few months to be very distasteful, especially (a) Boston Globe article that seemed to imply some sort of improper influence related to his conference travel," Kriss told Groklaw.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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