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12/12/2005
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Massachusetts OpenDoc Champion Cleared

The Massachusetts state IT chief who promoted the OpenDocument Format over proprietary software from Microsoft had been under investigation about whether he violated state regulations and attended conferences sponsored in part by proponents of open software.

The Massachusetts state IT chief who promoted the OpenDocument format (ODF) over proprietary software from Microsoft has been cleared in an investigation into whether he violated state regulations when he went to conferences sponsored in part by proponents of open standards software.

The investigation, by the administration of Governor Mitt Romney (R), reviewed the travel records of Peter J. Quinn, director of the state's Informational Technology Division. The exoneration was reported by The Boston Globe, which said its questions about Quinn's trips had prompted the investigation to begin with.

Quinn received permission from his former boss, Eric A. Kriss, who was serving as secretary of administration and finance (A&F) when Quinn made the trips. "I knew of every trip that Peter was taking and I approved them all," Kriss told the Boston Globe. "He was in demand at most of these because of the path… we were taking. People in other states were anxious to hear about the Massachusetts experience."

Before Kriss, a former software entrepreneur, left his A&F post, he supported the establishment of ODF as an exclusive standards for the state's documents--a move that was challenged by Microsoft. The new A&F chief, Thomas Trimarco, has supported the Microsoft position since becoming A&F chief after Kriss' departure.

In addition to the Republican Romney administration, the new pro-Microsoft position is supported by powerful Democrats including Secretary of State William Galvin and State Senator Marc Pacheco, chairman of the influential Post Audit and Oversight Committee.

The exoneration of Quinn follows attacks on Governor Romney by Massachusetts Democrats, who have complained that the governor made trips that violated the state's conflict-of-interest regulations. Governor Romney is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in the coming months.

Trimarco will ask state agencies to be certain their employees obtain proper approval from their superiors before they embark on business travel, a spokesman for the Romney administration told the Globe.

Quinn and proponents of the ODF policy including IBM and Sun Microsystems maintain that ODF as a state standard for its documents would lead to more competition and lower costs for maintaining the state's documents.

Microsoft charges that the ODF policy, as formulated, would unfairly keep it from competing for much of the state's business.

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