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Former Mass. CIO Peter Quinn unplugged

Former Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn pulls no punches in an interview with Groklaw, repeating his complaint that technology policy in the Bay State had become overly politicized.

Groklaw on Monday published a transcript of the interview with Quinn, who stepped down as the CIO of Massachusetts at the end of last year, saying that he had become a "lighting rod" for political maneuvering over technology policy.

Massachusetts named an acting CIO a few weeks later. A permanent CIO is expected to be named at least until the end of the year. After that, another CIO could be appointed by a new governor, according to a state official who asked not to be named. Massachusetts Governor Romney has said he will not run for reelection.

In the interview with Groklaw, Quinn decries the efforts of legislators, Microsoft and other officials to derail the state's decision to use OpenDocument-based products as the standard productivity software.

He predicted that the state will stick with its decision to go with OpenDocument, also called ODF, although pending legislation could still overturn the move.

In an interview with CNET in December of last year, Quinn said that IT policy should be "apolitical" and an investigation into Quinn's travel policies - detailed in a November Boston Globe article - could create a "chilling effect" over other municipal IT officials "who stick their neck out."

In the December interview, he also noted that most government users do not need fully featured productivity suites.

In the Groklaw transcript, Quinn was more specific: Massachusetts state workers "require readers, a robust browser, email and maybe calendaring. Given that reality, it seems to be a blatant waste of the taxpayers' money to continue to buy MS Office when in fact most people use a very small piece of its functionality."