Push to Create Standards for Documents

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30 companies, trade groups, academic institutions and professional organizations are announcing today the formation of the OpenDocument Format Alliance, which will promote the adoption of open technology standards by governments.

They say that with government records, reports and documents increasingly being created and stored in digital form, there is a software threat to electronic access to government information and archives. The problem is that public information can be locked in proprietary software whose document formats become obsolete or cannot be read by people using software from another company.

"The goal is to ensure that the largest number of people possible are able to find, retrieve and meaningfully use government information," said Patrice McDermott, deputy director of government relations for the American Library Association, a member of the alliance.

The problem, she said, is bad and getting worse. She noted that the National Archives and Records Administration was engaged in a costly project so the electronic documents it saves from federal agencies can be opened and read.

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