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Danish state administrations to use ODF

OSOR.euThe Danish parliament and the Danish minister for Science this morning agreed that the Danish state administrations should use open standards, including the Open Document Format (ODF), starting on 1 April 2011. A formal vote on the agreement is planned for next Tuesday.

Talking to the Danish parliament this morning, Science minister Helge Sander said he was proud that many countries are anxious to see how Denmark will use open standards, reports the Danish IT news site Version2.

Sander said: “My ambition is that we now only communicate using open standards. We must not make this decision on purely symbolic arguments and principles. It must be a practical decision.”

Just minutes prior to the debate in the Danish parliament, the ministry and the parliament agreed on a definition of open standards and drafted an initial list of open standards that are to be used by the Danish state’s administrative organisations.

Their decision does not include regional and municipal public administrations. However, according to an article published by Business DK, the business section of the Berlingske Tidene newspaper, these public administrations will follow later.

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Reporting on the discussions taking place this morning at the Danish Parliament, Version2 quotes Per Clausen, parliament member for the Enhedslisten (Unity List): “Our view is that we should choose a single standard. We could leave that decision to the market, but our textbooks also say that the state should intervene when that market develops in the direction of monopoly.”

Business DK quotes MP Yildiz Akdogan, representing one of the major parties, the Social Democrats: “I am pleased that it did not become a religious debate. And I am glad that we agree on the requirements, so that nobody can accuse us of excluding anyone, yet that we ensure transparency and offer better services to the public.”

Last week, det Radikale Venstre (Radical Left) MP Morten Østergaard had hosted a hearing in the Danish parliament, including representatives from the Belgian and Dutch government. Following this hearing, members of parliament and the minister have been negotiating on the definition and the initial list of open standards. Without an agreement, the parliament could have forced a decision in the debate that was planned to take place this morning.

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The open standard ODF is recognised by many European member states. Next to Denmark it is also a national standard for public administrations in Belgium, Germany, France, Lithuania, Sweden and the Netherlands. ODF is recommended by Norway and it is one of the document standards at NATO.

ODF is a document standard supported by many office applications, including most open source office software packages. The list of software companies supporting ODF include Sun Microsystems with its StarOffice, Google with Google Docs, IBM with Lotus Domino and Workplace. Microsoft supports ODF in the second edition of its 2007 version of its Office suite. Earlier versions require a plugin made by Sun Microsystems. ODF support is also included in the office suite Hangul, used by many of Korea’s public administrations and the office suite Itchitaro, which is popular in Japan. Open source applications that can handle ODF include OpenOffice, K-Office, Abiword, Gnumeric, Scribus and TextEdit.

Article was originally published at the Open Source Observatory & Repository Europe.

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