Lessons for Government Adoption of Open Standards: A Case Study of the Massachusetts Policy
Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vol. 5(4), 2008
12 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2016 Last revised: 23 Jul 2016
Date Written: December 22, 2008
This article chronicles the historic process of Massachusetts becoming the first government to mandate an open standard for document formats. In 2005, Massachusetts mandated the use of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) as part of a transition to open standards. The article also analyzes the Massachusetts experience and develops a set of lessons learned. The first set of lessons includes a focus on the difficulties of being an early adopter and factors that influenced the adoption mandate. Governments seeking to mandate specific document formats need to be aware of these factors. A second set of lessons focuses on decisions in establishing a standards policy. These lessons emphasize a clear definition of open standards, whether to mandate an open standard and for the government to carefully consider the expected benefits and costs of a standards policy. Overlooking costs, such as legacy equipment and training costs, can lead to disappointing results. These lessons are applicable, not only for decisions regarding document formats, but also for open standards policies for other technologies.
Keywords: Document Formats, Open Standards, Open Formats, Policy, Procurement
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