The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation will from 1 September 2006 make its online publications and other written communication available in ODF. That was announced by Minister of Science, Helge Sander, during an open consultation meeting in the Science and Technology Committee of the Danish Parliament held on 23 May. Mr Sander said that “the use of open standards is essential to the development of e-government”, and that the decision to publish in ODF is “a first step”, and will be evaluated after a 6-months trial period.
Mr Sander and his ministry has been under pressure for a while on the issue of open standards. The consultation meeting was called after the first reading of Morten Helveg‘s Proposal for Parliamentary Resolution on Open Standards (B103) in the Chamber of the Parliament. The second and final reading is still pending. I summarized the resolution here; it basically goes much further in enforcing open standards.
Mr Sander and the Liberal-Conservative Government has opposed the resolution, which is put forward by the opposition. The resolution does however appeal to not only the opposition parties, but also the Government’s support party (Danish People’s Party, far-right) whose Morten Messerschmidt and JÃ¸rgen Dohrman however do hesitate supporting the resolution due to unknown economical effects. Those concerns have been at the heart of the debates, and been Mr Sander’s main argument against the resolution.
On the day before the consultation meeting, the Danish daily newspaper, Berlingske.dk, published a news story, “Secret Report”, where they revealed the conclusions from an internal report from the ministry. Mr Sander promptly decided to send the report to the Committee and hence make it publically available, in order “to avoid any myth creation”, he said. The report is an initial analysis of the economic effects of enfording the use of open standards, and it concludes that although it is not possible to put an exact figure on the total costs (and benefits) of enforcing open standards at large, there is much reason in making open standards compulsory where interoperability is at stake. The report is dated December 2005, but I can reveal that the bulk text is even older, as I was the main author of the report as one of the last tasks I did before I left the ministry in September 2005. I’m glad the report is now public, so I can refer to it. I just re-read it, and although I personally might not agree to everything in it – it being a product of many opinions and “government speak” – it is still a good read, I’d dare say.