OpenDocument adoption

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This following is an overview of governments and other organizations around the world that are evaluating the use of OpenDocument, an open document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents.

NATO with its 26 members (Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the USA) uses ODF as a mandatory standard for all members.[1]


South Africa

On October 23, 2007, the Department of Public Service and Administration of the South African government released a report on interoperability standards in government information systems. It specifies ODF as the standard for "working office document formats" (with UTF-8/ASCII text and comma-separated values data as the only alternatives).[2]

Since April 2008 ODF is a national standard too, not only the standard to be used by government departments. South African code for the ODF standard is "SANS 26300:2008/ISO/IEC 26300:2006" [3]. By September 2008 all departments will be able to read and write in the Open Document Format. In 2009, ODF will become the default document format for South African government departments.[4]



Chandershekhar, India's secretary of Ministry of Information and Technology, said, "We are glad to note that with formation of a National ODF alliance, India too would be playing a pivotal role in spearheading the ODF revolution. Further, considering the huge potential of eGovernance in the nation as well as the need to adopt open standards to make our data systems more inter-operable and independent of any limiting proprietary tools, we feel that ODF is a great technological leap and a big boon to further propel IT right to India's grass root levels. I congratulate this initiative of leading private & public organisations and wish them all the best in this endeavor."[5]

The Allahabad High Court of India has decided, as policy, to use OpenDocument format for its documents.[6][7]


On June 29, 2007, the government of Japan published a new interoperability framework which gives preference to the procurement of products that follow open standards including the ODF standards.[8][9] On July 2 the government declared that they wouldn't stop from adopting alternative document formats, because they hold the view that formats like Office Open XML which other organizations such as Ecma International and ISO had also approved was, according to them, an open standard, too. Also, they said that it was one of the preferences, whether the format is open, to choose which software the government shall deploy.


In August, 2007, The Malaysian government announced plans to adopt open standards and the Open Document Format (ODF) within the country's public sector. The Malaysian Administration Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) issued a tender for a nine-month study to evaluate the usage of open standards. [10]

From April 2008 on the use of ODF is mandatory within the public sector.[11]


The European Commission has, since at least 2003, been investigating various options for storing documents in an XML-based format, commissioning technical studies such as the "Valoris Report" [12]. In March 2004, the Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC) asked an OpenOffice team and a Microsoft team to present on the relative merits of their XML-based office document formats [13].

In May 2004, TAC issued a set of recommendations, in particular noting that, "Because of its specific role in society, the public sector must avoid [a situation where] a specific product is forced on anyone interacting with it electronically. Conversely, any document format that does not discriminate against market actors and that can be implemented across platforms should be encouraged. Likewise, the public sector should avoid any format that does not safeguard equal opportunities to market actors to implement format-processing applications, especially where this might impose product selection on the side of citizens or businesses. In this respect standardisation initiatives will ensure not only a fair and competitive market but will also help safeguard the interoperability of implementing solutions whilst preserving competition and innovation." It then issued recommendations, including:

  • Industry actors not currently involved with the OASIS Open Document Format consider participating in the standardisation process in order to encourage a wider industry consensus around the format;
  • Microsoft considers issuing a public commitment to publish and provide non-discriminatory access to future versions of its WordML specifications;
  • Microsoft should consider the merits of submitting XML formats to an international standards body of their choice;
  • Industry is encouraged to provide filters that allow documents based on the WordML specifications and the emerging OASIS Open Document Format to be read and written to other applications whilst maintaining a maximum degree of faithfulness to content, structure and presentation. These filters should be made available for all products;
  • The public sector is encouraged to provide its information through several formats. Where by choice or circumstance only a single revisable document format can be used this should be for a format around which there is industry consensus, as demonstrated by the format's adoption as a standard. [14]

An official recommendation for a certain format was not issued however.

OpenDocument is already a standard by a recognized independent standards body (OASIS, in May 2005), and has been submitted to ISO for standardization. The OpenDocument format was accepted as standard ISO/IEC 26300:2006 in November 2006. Microsoft submitted Office Open XML to Ecma International for standardization in November 2005 where it was accepted as standard in December 2006. Office Open XML was published as international standard ISO/IEC 29500:2008 in November 2008.


A memorandum on the use of open standards for creating and exchanging office documents was approved by Belgium's federal Council of Ministers on June 23, 2006. OpenDocument was proposed as the standard for exchanging office documents such as texts, spreadsheets, presentations within the federal civil service.[15]

From September 2007 on, every federal government department must be able to read OpenDocument documents. From September 2008 on, all exchanges of revisable documents (texts, presentations, spreadsheets) between federal government agencies must occur in ODF. This does not affect exchanges of documents with other government agencies (on regional, municipal or European level) and also does not affect exchanges of documents with citizens and companies.[16] However, Belgium is leaving the door open for Office Open XML.[17]


Finland's Ministry of Justice has chosen and thus the OpenDocument format as their main document format from the beginning of 2007. The decision was made after deep research of ODF possibilities. Other ministries may follow.[18]


A large number of Bundesländer, state and goverenmental offices and cities widely use products that support ODF (e.g. StarOffice,[citation needed]


In December 2008 the governmental IT-Board of the Bundesregierung decided to make use of the ODF-Format in the Federal administration in order to improve IT-securtity and interoperability.[19]

The Federal Foreign Office has migrated totally to the use of ODF formats also in the 250 foreign offices abroad (it has reduced its IT costs to a third in comparison to other Ministries [20]). In a message to the participants of the first international ODF-workshop in October 2007 [21] the Federal Foreign Minister stated: "The Open Document Format, as a completely open and ISO standardized format, is an excellent vehicle for the free exchange of knowledge and information in the globalized age."[22]

The Federal office for security in IT (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik [23]) uses with StarOffice on all computers the ODF format in a cast deployment.[24]

Since September 2007 all communications with the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) and the Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht) may be transmitted in the ODF format.[25] The same has already applied for a while to other high courts (i.e. the Bundesarbeitsgericht[26], the Bundessozialgericht[27] and many other courts in the Bundesland of Nordrhein-Westfalen [28] [29] and of the Free State of Saxony (Sachsen) [30].


The City of Freiburg uses and OpenDocument.[31]


From the beginning of 2009 onwards, open source software and the ODF format will be the standard for reading, publishing and the exchange of information for all governmental organisations. Whenever the software used is not open source special reasons have to be given.[32][33]


Norway's Ministry of Government Administration and Reform decided in December 2007 that ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) MUST be used from 2009 when publishing documents that are meant to be changed after downloading, i.e. forms that are to be filled in by the user. So all website forums will use this format.[34]


The Portuguese Parliament will discuss a bill (proposed in 2008 by PCP) which determines that the adoption of open standard formats – namely ODF – shall be mandatory within all public administration agencies.[35]


In Slovakia all public authorities should be able to read ODF format since August 2006 and can use this format for electronic communication and for publication of documents.[36] Since October 2008 public authorities must be able to read ODF format. [37] In 2009, documents in ODF format will be allowed for use with electronic signature.[38]


Sweden has published ODF 1.0 as a national in August 2008.[39] This has not been announced officially.[40] The standards institute only added the prefix "SS" before the ISO number SS-ISO/IEC 26300:2008.

United Kingdom

BECTA (British Education Communication Technology Agency) is the UK agency in charge of defining information technology (IT) policy for all schools in the United Kingdom, including standards for all the schools' infrastructure. In 2005 they published a comprehensive document describing the policy for infrastructure in schools.

This document highly recommends the use of OpenDocument and a few other formats for office document data. BECTA explains this as follows: "Any office application used by institutions must be able to be saved to (and so viewed by others) using a commonly agreed format that ensures an institution is not locked into using specific software. The main aim is for all office based applications to provide functionality to meet the specifications described here (whether licensed software, open source or unlicensed freeware) and thus many application providers could supply the educational institution ICT market.". [41]

Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council has adopted the StarOffice suite and with it the OpenDocument format across 5500 desktop computers. [42]

South America


In September 2007 the Argentinian Province of Misiones decided via decrete that the use of ODF shall be mandatory within the government.[43] Around a million people live in this province, which is one of the 23 provinces of Argentina.


With the publication of "e-Ping Interoperability Framework"[44], Brazil became the first South American country to officially recommend the adoption of OpenDocuments within the government.

As stated in the latest text (v3.0 of 2007): "Preferred adoption of Open Formats: e-PING defines that, whenever possible, open standards will be used in technical specifications. "Proprietary standards" will be accepted, in this transition period, with the perspective of replacement as soon as there are conditions for a complete migration. With no loss to these goals, are to be respected those situations when there is the need to consider security requisites and information integrity. When available, Free Software solutions are to be considered preferential, accordingly with the policy defined by the Comitê Executivo de Governo Eletrônico(CEGE)"

Since April 2008 ODF is a national standard in Brazil, coded as NBRISO/IEC26300.[45]


Since June 2008 the "Agency for the Development of Government Electronic Management and Information and Knowledge Society of Uruguay" recommends that public documents use either ODF or PDF. ODF should be used for documents in the process of being edited and the latter for documents in final form. [46]

North America (esp. United States)


The US state of Massachusetts has been examining its options for implementing XML-based document processing. In early 2005, Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration and Finance in Massachusetts, was the first government official in the United States to publicly connect open formats to a public policy purpose: "It is an overriding imperative of the American democratic system that we cannot have our public documents locked up in some kind of proprietary format, perhaps unreadable in the future, or subject to a proprietary system license that restricts access."[47]

At a September 16 2005 meeting with the Mass Technology Leadership Council Kriss stated that he believes this is fundamentally an issue of sovereignty.[48] While supporting the principle of private intellectual property rights, he said sovereignty trumped any private company's attempt to control the state's public records through claims of intellectual property.[49]

Subsequently, in September 2005, Massachusetts became the first state to formally endorse OpenDocument formats for its public records and, at the same time, reject Microsoft's new XML format, now standardized as ISO/IEC 29500:2008 — Office Open XML. This decision was made after a two-year examination of file formats, including many discussions with Microsoft, other vendors, and various experts, plus some limited trial programs in individual communities like Saugus and Billerica. Microsoft Office, which has a nearly 100% market share among the state's employees, does not currently support OpenDocument formats. Microsoft had indicated that OpenDocument formats will not be supported in new versions of Office, even though they support many other formats (including ASCII, RTF, and WordPerfect), and analysts believe it would be easy for Microsoft to implement the standard. If Microsoft chooses not to implement OpenDocument, Microsoft will disqualify themselves from future consideration. Several analysts (such as Ovum) believe that Microsoft will eventually support OpenDocument. On 6 July 2006 Microsoft announced that they would support the OpenDocument format and create a plugin to allow Office to save to ODF.

After this announcement by Massachusetts supporting OpenDocument, a large number of people and organizations spoke up about the policy, both pro and con (see the references section). Adobe, Corel, IBM, and Sun all sent letters to Massachusetts supporting the measure. In contrast, Microsoft sent in a letter highly critical of the measure. A group named "Citizens Against Government Waste" (CAGW) also opposed the decision. The group claimed that Massachusetts' policy established "an arbitrary preference for open source," though both open source software and proprietary software can implement the specification, and both kinds of developers were involved in creating the standard (CAGW, 2005). However, InternetNews and Linux Weekly News noted that CAGW has received funding from Microsoft, and that in 2001 CAGW was caught running an astroturfing campaign on behalf of Microsoft when two letters they submitted supporting Microsoft in Microsoft's anti-trust case were found to have the signatures of deceased persons (Linux Weekly News). James Prendergast, executive director of a coalition named "Americans for Technology Leadership" (ATL), also criticized the state's decision in a Fox News article.[50] In the article, Prendergast failed to disclose that Microsoft is a founding member of ATL. Fox News later published a follow-up article disclosing that fact.[51]

State Senator Marc R. Pacheco and State Secretary William F. Galvin have expressed reservations about this plan. Pacheco held a hearing on October 31, 2005, on the topic of OpenDocument. Pacheco did not want OpenDocument to be declared as the executive branch standard, primarily on procedural grounds. Pacheco believed that the executive branch had to receive permission to set an executive standard from the multi-branch IT Advisory Board. In contrast, The Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD), and its general council, believe the Advisory board's role is to advise ITD, and ITD did discuss the issue with the IT Advisory Board, but ITD's Peter Quinn and Linda Hamel (ITD's General Counsel) asserted that there is no requirement that "ITD approach the Advisory Board for permission to adopt policies that will impact only the Executive Department." Hamel later filed a legal briefing justifying ITD's position (Hamel, 2005). Massachusetts' Supreme Court has ruled that the various branches of government are prohibited from mandating IT standards on each other; this ruling appears to support ITD's claim. Pacheco also did not like the process used to select OpenDocument. However, Pacheco appears to have had many fundamental misunderstandings of the issues. Andy Updegrove said that at the time, "Senator Pacheco doesn't understand the difference between open source and open standards (and certainly doesn't understand the difference between OpenDocument and OpenOffice). More than once, he indicated that he thought that the policy would require the Executive Agencies to use, not realizing that there are other compliant alternatives. He also thought that this would act to the detriment of Massachusetts software vendors, who (he thinks) would be excluded from doing business with the Commonwealth." Pacheco also thought that was under the GPL, but in fact it is released under the LGPL (Jones, October 31, 2005) (Jones, November 14, 2005). He attempted to halt implementation of OpenDocument in the executive branch via an amendment (to S. 2256), but the amended bill was never sent to the governor.

Since then in 2007 Massachusetts has amended its approved technical standards list to include Office Open XML.


Official Information Documents from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

(to find the documents as HTML pages, go to and search for the documents, eg. "etrm")

Other states and organizations in the US

In November, 2005, James Gallt, associate director for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said that a number of other state agencies are also exploring the use of OpenDocument (LaMonica, November 10, 2005).

In April, 2006, a bill was introduced in the Minnesota state legislature to require all state agencies to use open data formats. It is expected that the OpenDocument Format will be advanced as a way of meeting the proposed requirement. (Gardner, April 7, 2006).

In late 2007 and early 2008, New York State issued a Request for Public Comment concerning electronic records policy.


Other regions


It was announced on 31 March, 2006, that the National Archives of Australia had settled on OpenDocument as their choice for a cross-platform/application document format.


According to OASIS' OpenDocument datasheet, "Singapore's Ministry of Defence, France's Ministry of Finance and its Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industry, Brazil's Ministry of Health, the City of Munich, Germany, UK's Bristol City Council, and the City of Vienna in Austria are all adopting applications that support OpenDocument." (OASIS, 2005b).


  1. 3.4. NNEC Core Enterprise Services
  2. "South Africa adopts ODF as govt standard". Tectonic. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
  4. Tectonic » South Africa adopts ODF as a national standard
  7. Frequently Asked questions
  8. Gardner, David (2007-07-10). "Office Software Formats Battle Moves To Asia". Information Week. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  9. "Interoperability framework for information systems (in Japanese)". Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan. 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  10. Tan, Lynn (2007-08-13). "Malaysia formally embraces Open Document Format". ZDNet Asia. Retrieved 2007-09-13.
  11. Open Malaysia: MAMPU migrates to and ODF to increase freedom of choice and interoperability
  12. Valoris (2004). Comparative Assessment of Open Documents Formats Market Overview aka the "Valoris Report".
  13. Bray, Tim. (September 24-26 2004) SmartEC (Accessed on October 17 2005. (Discussing Open Office XML ISO Certification).)
  14. Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC). (May 25 2004) TAC Approval on Conclusions and Recommendations on Open Document Formats. (Accessed on October 17 2005.)
  15. Belgium's federal Council of Ministers. (2006) Open standards: Belgium's federal Council of Ministers approves ODF (Open Document Format). (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  16. Techworld. (2006) Belgium adopts OpenDocument. (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  17. CNET (2006) Belgian government chooses OpenDocument. (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  18. Oikeusministeriö - Justitieministeriet - Etusivu
  19. Bundesministerium des Innern: IT-Rat der Bundesregierung eröffnet den Einsatz offener Dokumentenformate (ODF).
  24. heise online - Auswärtiges Amt spart im IT-Bereich kräftig dank Open Source
  26. Formatstandards / Versionen
  27. Formatstandards / Versionen
  28. Formatstandards / Versionen
  29. Formatstandards / Versionen
  30. Formatstandards / Versionen
  31. Stadt Freiburg im Breisgau: Offene Standards in der öffentlichen Verwaltung
  32. GotzeBlogged » Blog Archive » Netherlands Picks ODF
  33. Ministerie van Economische Zaken - Verplicht gebruik open standaarden bij overheid
  34. Open document standards to be obligatory for state information -
  35. Projecto de Lei 577/X (Bill 577/X)
  36. "Standards for IS (informations systems) in public authorities in Slovak republic no. 1706/M-2006". Ministry of Economy, Slovak republic. 2006-08-01. Retrieved 2006-08-01.
  37. "Standards for IS (informations systems) in public authorities in Slovak republic no. MF/013261/2008-132". Ministry of Economy, Slovak republic. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
  38. "amandment to 542 DECREE of the National Security Authority of 9 September 2002 on the manner and procedure of using an electronic signature in commercial and administrative intercourse" (PDF). National Security Authority, Slovak republic. 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
  41. BECTA. (2005) Technical specification for institutional infrastructure. (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  42. Open Source Academy Bristol City Council. (Accessed on April 4 2007.)
  43. Gobierno Electrónico de la Provincia de Misiones
  44. e-Ping Interoperability Framework
  45. NBR ISO/IEC 26300
  47. Administration and Finance
  48. Starting September 7, 2005
  49. MTLC Open Source SIG Wiki: OpenFormatMeetingSept2005
  50. Prendergast 2005
  51. FOX News, 2005; Jones, September 29 2005

External links

sk:Prijatie ODF v Európe