Mass. Moves Ahead with OpenDoc Plan

Publicly reaffirming its intent to transition away from Microsoft Office to the OASIS backed Open Document format, Massachusetts has appointed a new Chief Information Officer to oversee the switch. Louis Gutierrez will replace Peter Quinn, who resigned due to the controversy and personal attacks he received.

When announcing his resignation in late December, Quinn stressed to employees of the state's Information Technology Division (ITD) that his departure did not mean that Massachusetts' progress towards ODF was ending. Indeed, Gutierrez will be tasked with final implementation of the proposal.

The move to standardize on the Open Document format for all electronic documents in Massachusetts began last September, when the proposal was first approved. The ITD set a deadline of January 1, 2007 for migrating to applications that work with Open Document. Such programs include, StarOffice, KOffice, and IBM Workplace among others.

The plan was quickly attacked by Microsoft, which called it "inconsistent and discriminatory." Microsoft has since submitted its new Office Open XML formats to Ecma International for standardization, but says it has no plans to support Open Document in Office 12, due late this year.

Controversy stemming from the decision centered on Quinn, who was accused of taking money to travel to a conference, but later cleared of any wrongdoing. Quinn's former boss, Eric Kriss, said that he was ill-prepared for the game of political football that the ODF proposal had created.

Gutierrez is currently the chief technology strategist at the Commonwealth Medicine Division of UMass Medical School, and will take up his post as state CIO beginning February 6. Prior to his position at UMass, Gutierrez served as CIO for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, overseeing 23,000 staff and $12 billion in annual spending.

In a statement, Gutierrez spoke of the use of open standards to interoperate between many kinds of technology and vendors. "As technology continues to evolve there remain substantial opportunities to transform services and a need to plan for the long-term future," he said.

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