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November 26, 2005

Open Document, Insert Foot II: Electric Boogaloo

Globe reports that the Romney administration is investigating Peter Quinn, director of the Informational Technology Division, for not getting permission to go to some out-of-state conferences:

Romney administration officials are investigating whether Quinn violated travel procedures by not obtaining written authorization for six of the trips -- to Brazil, Ottawa, San Francisco, and other cities -- since September 2004. For six other trips, he received written approval from his supervisor.


Quinn proposed the major change-over to using open-source formats for state documents. The insinuation is that he may have been influenced by "sponsoring companies" of these conferences. However, as anyone who gets a glossy flyer from one of these things knows: "... a galaxy of computer companies are listed as sponsors of many of the conferences."

Is this a real conflict of interest, or a witch hunt? The Globe takes credit for piquing the administration's interest: "The state launched its inquiry after the Globe began asking questions about the trips earlier this week". Can we be sure this investigation was in response to our intrepid muckraker, and not in response to some phone calls from a certain lobbyist for a certain arm-twisting corporation? Is the Romney administration going to use this as a side-show to scrap the whole idea, as they seem inclined to do?

Regardless, if you're an open-source/free software enthusiast, the FSF wants you to call your reps to support the change-over.

(See my disclosure at the end of this post. Thanks to Adam Gaffin for putting two and two together... maybe.)

(Update:  More full disclosure: I should have mentioned earlier that my brother now works for, and I have stock in, Red Hat, which is a company that does open-source software. I have not seen any specific mention of them as a company that would gain business due to the proposed change-over, but I suppose it's possible. Sorry for the omission.)

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 11:03 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Some more here:


Basically, the sponsorship issue is a red herring; trade-show sponsors are like newspaper advertisers, not primary organizers of the events. Plus, one of the events cited by the Globe was co-sponsored by, ta da, Microsoft. Does that mean he has a secret bias in favor of Microsoft?

Posted by: adamg | Nov 28, 2005 10:59:41 PM

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