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Disabled People Challenge Mass. OpenDocument Policy

State CIO Peter Quinn apologized for not consulting with disabled people, but defends the overall policy, saying it will ultimately lead to more choice of vendors.
The battle over formatting Massachusetts state records has seen a skirmish won this week by the Microsoft side. The Redmond, Washington-based software developer noted that disabled workers say Microsoft Office makes their work easier than the OpenDocument format that has been stipulated by the state's IT operation.

Peter Quinn, the state's chief information officer, apologized at a public hearing Monday for neglecting to consult with representatives of disabled people when the policy was formulated. He defended, however, a move to the OpenDocument format by the state's agencies.

The state's new policy calls for an OpenDocument format standard that Quinn's office maintains will open up competition to more vendors. The Microsoft side argues that the policy would unfairly lock out users of Microsoft Office.

The policy seems far from settled as state Senator Marc Pacheco, who chaired the Monday meeting, and Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin are continuing to question the OpenDocument policy. The new format policy was initially driven by Secretary Eric Kriss, head of the state's Executive Office for Administration & Finance. A former software entrepreneur with programming experience, Kriss left his state position recently.

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