A Shift in Posture
The Romney administrations posture toward the situation has clearly shifted over the past months. In a surprising about-face, Trimarco in November signaled that Microsofts move to make Office XML a ratified ECMA standard could well make the format acceptable to the government.He issued a statement saying that "The Commonwealth is very pleased with Microsofts progress in creating an open document format. If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats." The administration of Gov. Mitt Romney has since rededicated itself to ODF. Indeed, the second paragraph of the news release stated that Gutierrez will be "responsible for overseeing the final stages of implementation" of the ODF proposal. Updegrove said that the conflicting statements from the Romney administration are anything but random. "The whole press release is clearly being used as a vehicle to convey the strong support of Romney for ODF," he said. The reason Romney is investing political capital in a technological debate likely has to do with Romneys intention to run for president in the next election, Updegrove suggested. First, because Romney has continued to be asked about the ODF controversy, he had to decide how to come down on it, and he likely wouldnt want to be seen as flip-flopping going into a presidential race. Second, the Abrahamoff scandal is likely influencing Romney, as politicians become leery of succumbing to aggressive lobbying, Updegrove said. "What with the Abrahamoff scandal, and with Microsoft pushing very hard for a reversal, would you rather look like youre giving in to a special interest or would you rather look like youre standing up to a special interest?" he said. Gutierrez brings a legacy of working with open standards to his new position. Accepting the job means leaving his current position as chief technology strategist at the Commonwealth Medicine Division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Prior to that, he worked at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he spearheaded the development of the states Virtual Gateway, a portal that integrates Web presences of 16 agencies. "The Virtual Gateway is an example of how state government computing can be transformed through the application of open standards that interoperate with many kinds of technology and vendors," Gutierrez is quoted as saying in the administrations release. "As technology continues to evolve, there remain substantial opportunities to transform services and a need to plan for the long-term future of technology-infused operations." And regardless of the political winds that brought Gutierrez to the position, Updegrove said, Romney merits praise for doing the right thing. "You have a governor whos deciding what is the smartest thing for [him] to do here, and really, to his credit, hes doing the right thing," he said. "Hes standing up to special interests, hes standing behind the recommendations of the highly skilled professionals that he hired. Hes keeping with a policy, hes going against the political maneuvering of [Massachusetts Secretary] William Francis Galvin and others on Beacon Hill, [the location of the Massachusetts State House]. Hes sticking with it." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
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