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5/23/2008
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N.Y.'s CIO Urges Interoperable, Vendor-Neutral Document Format

The state report also advocates the creation of a cross-government Electronic Records Committee to address long-term concerns.

New York state should ensure openness, vendor neutrality, and interoperability for its electronic records, a state government report said this week.

The state's Office for Technology and the New York State Archives on Wednesday issued a report that concluded the state should purchase technology that allows for openness, interoperability, and transparency. The report, "A Strategy for Openness: Enhancing E-Records Access in New York State," recommends that the state Legislature pass laws requiring the state's electronic records to meet those standards.

The report fails to name specific technologies like Adobe's PDF or the OpenOffice/Sun Open Document Format, but stresses that the technology should be vendor neutral so public records will "remain free from being locked into proprietary systems and software applications."

"This report is the first step to improve openness in records retention for the state and we expect additional recommendations for technical standards to evolve as we continue on down the openness path," Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, the state's CIO and director of the Office for Technology, said in a statement released with the report.

It also advocates the creation of a statewide, cross-government Electronic Records Committee to address long-term concerns regarding electronic record creation, management, and preservation.

The committee would make sure state agencies adopt open formats, explain the state's plans and commitment to openness to vendors, and ensure that the state's standards remain intact through leadership changes in government.

The report came from a group of state leaders who examined policies in other states and countries, as well as the practices, needs, and costs regarding records creation and management in New York state. It solicited public comments and received 600 pages worth from 114 sources. Fifty-one percent of those responding were individuals, while 22% represented commercial enterprises. Seventeen percent came from government entities, and 10% came from nonprofit groups.

The full report is available online.

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