The office of the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer (AGCTO) is proposing support for the Open Document Format (ODF) in an annual review of computing system policies.
The review covers the common and standard operating environments (COE/SOE) for client computing systems across federal government, AGCTO John Sheridan said in a blog post.
"The new draft now requires that office productivity suites must provide support for at least version 1.1 of the Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) as defined by ISO/IEC 26300:2006/Amd 1:2012," he said.
ODF is the standard Extended Mark-up Language (XML) document format used by governments in many countries, including Japan, India, the European Union, Brazil and South Korea as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence pact.
It is supported by commercial vendors such as Microsoft with its Office suites since version 2007 Service Pack 2, and Lotus Symphony, Oracle Staroffice and Google Docs.
Open source software such as AbiWord, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice also support the format.
Interoperability and support for several versions of Microsoft Office is cited by the AGCTO as reasons to go with ODF, along with flexibility and the fact that the format is continously updated and developed.
Spreadsheet formulae are now included in the ODF 1.2 specification as well and the AGTO believes that this, along with Microsoft Office 2013 supporting the format, will help to reliably transfer formulae between applications.
The AGCTO isn't shutting the door on other standards and notes that "defining a common format to be supported by all office productivity suites does not preclude the use of other formats".
Together with the draft COE policy, the AGCTO released (pdf) an updated standard operating environment build which is based on 64-bit Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 10 as the standard browser.
Microsoft's Office appears to be the preferred productivity suite according to the SOE build draft document.
Tweaks and software outside the specification are explicitly not allowed under the draft policy.
"Do not install any form of “value adding” software, such as browser toolbars or helpers, unless they are explicitly required. Where they are automatically installed, but not required, take remedial action to remove or permanently disable them," the draft policy said.
The updated policy will be taken to the government chief information officer committee for review and to the secretaries' ICT governance board for approval after feedback and a final overview of the document.