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Massachusetts sticking with 'open' documents

Despite state CIO's departure, Massachusetts is not pulling support for OpenDocument standard.

Massachusetts remains committed to using desktop software based on "open standards" despite the departure of Peter Quinn, the state's chief information officer and main architect of the policy.

A spokesperson for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's office on Wednesday said there are no changes to the state's plan to adopt standards-based products for storing documents starting in January 2007.

The current technical blueprint, published in September, calls for the state to use OpenDocument-based productivity suites. OpenDocument is a standard created at OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) and not supported by Microsoft Office.

Quinn resigned from his position as CIO of the state's IT Division last week, saying that he had become a "lightning rod with regard to any IT initiative."

In an interview with CNET in December, Quinn complained about the political dustup that the IT Division had caused.

"IT should be apolitical," he said.

He said that the scrutiny and political turf wars that the state's policy has spawned could create a "chilling effect" on other government officials who take unconventional stands.

The IT Division's endorsement of OpenDocument has caused controversy within the state and the computing industry.

A state Senate oversight committee called a hearing to review the decision-making process, and lawmakers have proposed creating a committee to oversee technical decisions, which would take power away from the IT Division.

Quinn's travel expenses were also reviewed late last year. He was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Although the state has not backed away from the OpenDocument format, state officials including Quinn have said that Microsoft's effort to standardize Office document formats could meet the state's criteria for open formats.