Government departments are will embrace the Open Document Format (ODF) as the standard format for all documents, with the previous standards of .doc, .xls and .ppt set to fall away.
The latest version (4.1) of the Minimum Interoperability Standards (MIOS) for Information Systems in Government, which was signed off yesterday by Public Services Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moloketi, now includes ODF as the de jure standard for documents within government departments.
The MIOS sets out the government's technical principles and standards for achieving interoperability and information systems coherence across the public sector.
Adherence to the MIOS standards and policies is mandatory.
The new version of the MIOS contains an explicit definition of Open Standards as well as the inclusion of ODF.
ODF version 1.0 and later has been specified as one of the formats to be used for working office documents such as word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files.
UTF-8/ASCII formatted text and comma-seperated values (CSV) formats may also be used.
In terms of Open Standards, the MIOS lays out the criteria by which a standard can be considered open – and it has to comply with all the criteria. Should there be no one standard that conforms 100%, the degree of openness has to be considered.
The criteria for openness are defined by MIOS as:
* It should be maintained by a non-commercial organisation;
* Participation in ongoing development work is based on decision-making processes that are open to all interested parties;
* There should be open access to all committee documents, drafts and completed standards free of cost of for a negligible fee;
* It must be possible for everyone to copy, distributre and use the standard free of cost;
* The intellectual rights required to implement the standard (such as essential patent claims) are irrevocably available, without any royalties attached;
* There are no reservations regarding re-use of the standard; and
* There are multiple implementations of the standard.