In one of the most thorough and intensive periods of scrutiny for any type of standard, the Danish government has decided to make both ODF and Open XML document formats mandatory as of Jan. 1, 2008. While I still believe that mandated standards are not an optimal solution for interoperability, this is an important step in the recognition of Ecma Open XML as an open standard. Denmark has been one of the most sophisticated and dedicated government voices in this discussion and I view this as a very positive step forward.
Below is a rough translation.
Important political step on Open Standards
The Danish Minister of Science, Helge Sander has, after prolonged negotiations with the IT spokespersons of the Danish Parliament now decided on a plan for the future use of open standards.
– Denmark is one of the most advanced countries when it comes to open standards. We are now ready to take the next big step and introduce mandatory standards, says Helge Sander.
The plan will ensure that the introduction of open standards will help the entire society, and the individual office will not experience rising IT expenses due to the new obligatory standards. The plan follows up on the passing of law B103 by the Danish Parliament on the 2nd June last year on the use of open standards in the public sector. Based upon the reports which have been to open hearing and debated during the last year, seven standards will become obligatory as of the 1st January 2008. With regard to standards for exchange of documents, the plan says that the two standards will become obligatory for a trial period from the 1st January 2008 and one year ahead. In the trial period, the public authorities should be able to receive both standards, ODF and OOXML, and new purchases should be able to handle at least one of the two standards. The trial period will be evaluated in the first six months of 2009 by a third party with a view towards a new evaluation by the parliament. During the fall, the Minister of Science will orientate the IT-spokespersons on the concrete implementation of the plan, and will at the same time discuss which criteria should be evaluated in 2009 with regard to document standards.