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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

Rajiv C. Shah

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Communication; Illinois State University

Jay P. Kesan

University of Illinois College of Law

Andrew C. Kennis

University of Illinois

Date Written: December 22, 2008

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Shah, Rajiv C. and Kesan, Jay P. and Kennis, Andrew C., Lessons for Government Adoption of Open Standards: A Case Study of the Massachusetts Policy (December 22, 2008). Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vol. 5(4), 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2808595

Rajiv Shah

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Communication ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rajivshah.com

Illinois State University ( email )

Normal, IL 61790
United States

Jay P. Kesan (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-7887 (Phone)
217-244-1478 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jaykesan.com

Andrew C. Kennis

University of Illinois ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-265-0306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uiuc.edu

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