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Mass. replaces CIO in OpenDocument fray

As acting CIO is named, governor's spokesman says commonwealth is "on track" to use OpenDocument-based software next year.

Massachusetts has named an acting chief information officer, and the state is "on track" to use OpenDocument-based desktop software next year, a spokesman for the commonwealth's governor said Thursday.

Bethann Pepoli has been appointed acting CIO of the state's Information Technology Division by Thomas Trimarco, the state's secretary of administration and finance, according to Eric Fehrnstrom, communications director at Gov. Mitt Romney's office.

Pepoli, who formerly served as the chief operating officer of the IT Division, will temporarily replace Peter Quinn, who stepped down at the end of last month, citing political pressure. A search for a permanent replacment is ongoing, Fehrnstrom said.

Quinn was an important figure in the state's decision to adopt standards-based software for its desktop software products, a controversial move that has been reviewed and questioned by state politicians.

Currently, the IT Division's policy mandates that documents be saved in the OpenDocument format, a standard developed at the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, or OASIS. Microsoft does not support OpenDocument in Office and will not in Office 12, which is due by the end of 2006, according to company executives.

Fehrnstrom said the state remains on schedule for an implementation of OpenDocument-based desktop software in executive branch agencies.

"There have been no changes in the commonwealth's published OpenDocument rules, and we are still on track for a January 2007 implementation," Fehrnstrom said.

Open-source productivity suite OpenOffice supports OpenDocument; Sun Microsystems, IBM and Novell plan to support the format as well.

Microsoft has submitted the document formats for Office 12 to standards body Ecma International and plans to publish them as standards in about a year.

Massachusetts officials have welcomed Microsoft's standards effort and have said the formats, called Office Open XML, could meet the state's criteria for open standards-based products.