The Norwegian government has mandated the use of open document formats from January 1st, 2009. I’ll give a brief overview of what the article actually says.
There are three formats that have been mandated for all documentation between authorities and users/partners, namely:
HTML for all public information on the Web.
PDF for all documents where layout needs to be preserved.
ODF for all documents that the recipient is supposed to be able to edit
Goverment, state and regional agencies, authorities and services may also publish in other formats, but they must always publish in one of these formats. The decree is retroactive, and by 2014 all documents published prior to this decree must have been converted and made available in one of the three formats.
While the decree doesn’t mandate any format for internal documentation, I still have hopes that every interested party will standardize on the same formats for internal use as well, and it is also my hope that a real competitive market for information systems is created.
Either way, for me as a dedicated user of Linux, proponent of open formats and standards, this is delightful. I’ll end it with a quote from our minister for information technologies, Heidi Grande Røys, with some emphasis added from my side:
Everyone should have equal access to public documents. From 2009, every citizen will be able to choose which software they want to use to get access to public information. The goverment’s decision will also improve the terms of competition between software providers. In the future, we will not accept that govermental agencies lock the users of public information to closed formats.