[Linux-aus] Letter to Standards Australia re transparency of OOXML process

Janet Hawtin lucychili at gmail.com
Wed Dec 12 03:08:23 UTC 2007

On Dec 12, 2007 11:58 AM, Glen Turner <gdt at gdt.id.au> wrote:
> Hello Linux Australia committee,
> The outrageous process continues, with many issues of concern
> to the Linux community being excluded from the Ballot
> Resolution Committee. For example, the ISO CEO has determined
> that no intellectual property issues exist in DIS 26300, so
> no futher discussion on that topic is permissible.

My not participating is probably more due to not understanding how to
engage than from being specifically excluded. I am not sure how to
participate in the process.

How do you get advice on what is involved?
Is the role funded and what kind of long term commitment is involved?
Can I do this and hold down an unrelated job?
How does Standards Australia induct new participants to this process?

> The BRM itself has no minutes, no observers. In short, no
> transparency.
> For more detail see
> http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0932.htm


> Standards Australia gain their authority from the Commonwealth,
> via a Memo of Understanding which requires:
>  3.1.1 "scientifically and economically rigorous"
>  3.1.3 "do not inhibit competition"
>  3.5   "fair an acceptable balance of all interested parties"
>        "full needs of producers, service providers, users"
>  5.7.1 "documented procedures and systems for developing standards"
>  5.11  for international standards, ensure participation of local
>        experts and present their views at international forums

Thankyou. Is there a process whereby new participants can learn skills
in order to assess standards against these criteria? How would a new
person make this go?

> I have listed these terms as people aware of the process followed
> for DIS 26300 are well aware that Standards Australia has failed
> to meet these terms.
> I ask that Linux Australia lobby the Commonwealth to bring to the
> new government's clear attention the failures of Standards Austalia
> in the DIS 29600 process.

What can we offer as a contribution to progressing things properly.
What is the ideal outcome procedurally?
Are the events that Pia is participating in likely to be feeding input
into the process directly or indirectly? Do any of the 662 comments
have any impact given that
so many of the people voting are at least partners of the people
making the proposal
and who have only joined the standards process with that vote in mind.

As I understand it there is a requirement that an ISO process must
have a % of participation or it fails. Other standards are failing
because there are so many nations/representatives who have joined the
process who only want to vote on the ooxml process and are not
engaging with other proposals.

> I ask that Linux Australia do so by:
>  - writing a letter to the responsible Minister outlining the
>    flaws.
>  - requesting in that letter that the Minister direct Standards
>    Australia to disapprove DIS 29600.
>  - meeting with the Minister to discuss this matter and future
>    reform of Standards Australia's involvement with the computing
>    community.
> I am happy to assist Linux Australia in these tasks.
> Please let me know shortly your decision on this request.
> Thank you, Glen

Happy to help personally.

Want to determine what is most useful in a long term support of good
standards-craft sense.

I get the feeling that the process for the ooxml proposal
internationally is unrelated to work undertaken on the proposal itself
as the voting has largely been a matter of numbers in the committees
and that these numbers have been changed throughout this process to
directly change the votes of nations without reference to anything
like the Commonwealth criteria you describe.

Given that this is the international situation it feels to me that the
best way to look at the process is to look at what role our Standards
Australia plays for our country rather than what role it plays in the
ISO process as the criteria in the international process feel like
they are confused or not playing an effective part in the process.

Does Australia use ISO or Standards Australia to indicate which
technologies can be used in a non-discriminatory manner and therefore
which can be used in Government information. If so then the legal
clarity and integration with existing standards and the interest in
having one way of doing things well offers key advantages for this

If Australia does not use ISO or Standards Australia as a signpost for
those criteria then how is it possible to support those kinds of
values beyond those systems.

For me the fact that the Commonwealth criteria are scoped around the
national aspirational needs and the Standards Australia website is
asking for participation of people oriented around vested interests
provides some challenges in terms of whether the purpose is hosting a
gladiatorial process or whether the purpose is actually looking at the
fit for purpose of the proposal in an Australian context.

The proposal is not legally scoped to make it safely usable except by
signatories and
even those conditionally. The proposal contradicts existing standards
and would cause data corruption including around date and time. The
process which has been angaged in has
been corrupting of the standards process itself. All of these things make me
ask how Australia is able to find ways to ensure interoperable data
and access to participate for people who are not signatories to the


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