|| ||Con Zymaris <conz-AT-cyber.com.au>|
|| ||[MEDIA RELEASE] OSV to States: Follow Massachusetts in Open Document Standards|
|| ||Fri, 16 Sep 2005 09:35:16 +1000|
Hi Jon & LWN team.
This might be of interest to your readers.
- CEO, Cybersource Pty. Ltd.
- Director, Open Source Industry Australia, Limited.
- Convenor, Open Source Victoria (A Government-funded industry cluster.)
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[MEDIA RELEASE] OSV to States: Follow Massachusetts in Open Document Standards
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has announced the adoption of the
OpenDocument XML file format as its preferred method for storing
government documents. In doing so, Massachusetts joins the Australian
Federal Government in adopting this format for long-term electronic
document storage. Open Source Victoria calls on all remaining
Australian states and government agencies to also adopt this format, as
it is the only viable approach to ensuring guaranteed access to public
sector documents and data in perpetuity.
"Open Source Victoria congratulates the US State of Massachusetts for
taking the lead and acting to future-proof its electronic archives. We
urge all Australian Governments, federal, state and local to do the
same," said OSV spokesperson Donna Benjamin. "Doing so will greatly
increase the likelihood that documents can be read and used in decades
to come. It also guarantees there will be multiple sources for tools
which read and write this format."
"OpenDocument is an agreed standard developed and supported by a global
consortium. They have committed to a transparent specification that
maximises accessibility now and into the future. As such, OpenDocument
is the only open standard XML document format available. By using
OpenDocument, governments will avoid proprietary or legally-encumbered
formats. Whilst Microsoft's document formats remain popular, there is no
guarantee they will be accessible into the future. Users already
experience serious compatibility issues when sharing documents between
versions of Microsoft Office - this will get worse with time," continued
OpenDocument is already supported by the following applications:
OpenOffice.org, StarOffice, KOffice, Abiword, eZ publish, IBM Workplace,
Knomos case management, Scribus DTP, TextMaker and Visioo Writer.
Importantly, many of these applications are free for all users and also
Benjamin explains the difference like this: "It's all about control.
With OpenDocument, you are in control of what you do with your
documents. With Microsoft Office, Microsoft is in control. Open
standards in file formats mean that anyone can access the complete
specification and implement software which can read and write
OpenDocument files. Microsoft, by comparison, hides information because
it wants to make sure people keep using its own office suite, and has
embedded legal traps in the licence of its new Word XML format. We
recommend that agencies move to OpenDocument, which has already been
field-tested by tens of millions of users for five years."
Another benefit of OpenDocument is risk-mitigation. The Commonwealth of
Massachusetts stated that legal concerns were behind its decision to
only use document formats based on open standards. Eric Kriss, Secretary
of Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, said
they had concerns about the openness of the Microsoft XML schemas as
well as with a potential for patent issues arising in the future:
"What we've backed away from at this point is the use of a proprietary
standard and we want standards that are published and free of legal
encumbrances, and we don't want two standards," Kriss added. 
Benjamin referred to the The Australian National Archive who have also
selected OpenDocument. "The ANA's decision to use truly open standards
for the electronic archiving of documents is the best long-term bet."
However she notes that OSV is concerned other government agencies, state
and federal, may be jeopardising future access to Australia's government
documents if they fail to adopt an open approach. Benjamin asks "If
OpenDocument is the preferred solution from this country's foremost
archiving experts, then shouldn't all our agencies follow suit?"
 Interview with Eric Kriss, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
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About Open Source Victoria
Open Source Victoria is an Industry Cluster consisting of over 60
Victorian firms and developers which provide services and technology
related to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS.) Open Source Victoria
offers marketing, advocacy and information referral services, and aims
to raise the profile of FOSS in Victoria and work with other similar
organisations across Australia.
Contact: Con Zymaris
Phone: 03 9621 2377
Fax: 03 9621 2477
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