Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Massachusetts former CIO interview

Pamela Jones has an informative interview with the former chief information officer of Massachusetts, Peter Quinn, who resigned recently after completely unfounded smears in the press. Quinn had been overseeing the state's move to an open document format IT infrastructure

"PJ: What was the last straw that made you quit?

Quinn: The word that the IT Bond Bill would not be reported out as part of the total bond package (so Highway and Building Construction funds would be available but not IT funding). And the word was it was all about me.

Now the folks that have say here do not know me from a hole in the wall and the funds were for projects that were totally unrelated to ITD. I clearly had set the priorities for the Bond but this funding is for projects like a new Taxpayers System, new Registry of Motor Vehicles system, etc., all projects desperately needed by the citizens of the Commonwealth. Eric Kriss and I always had a goal of making IT "a"political and now it was rapidily becoming a political football of the highest magnitude.

I took this job in the hopes of making meaningful and institutionalized IT reform. All the previous efforts were about to be for naught as political payback. IT would and will grind to a halt if IT longterm funding is not released and if the Legislation that guts the Office of the CIO is passed. This was not a prospect that I wanted to facilitate by my presence.

If I am gone, I am sure much of the gamesmanship will subside. There are many very good people doing very good work that would be marginalized (my opinion) by my continued tenure. And to be brutally frank, the instigators of much of this legislation are represented by the true bottom feeders in the Legislature, in my view. To have to bow and genuflect to their likes is not something I could ever do. I do hope rationale voices will prevail (and I believe that will be the case).

PJ: Do you know who inspired the Globe to do the investigation? Was it Pacheco?

Quinn: Almost to a person, to anybody involved or who knows about the ODF issue, they attributed the story to Microsoft, right, wrong or otherwise. Senator Pacheco may be a bully but I do not believe he is disingenuous and would stoop to such a tactic. Senator Pacheco and Secretary Galvin's office remain very heavily influenced by the Microsoft money and its lobbyist machine, as witnessed by their playbook and words, in my opinion...

PJ: What, in your opinion, will happen to ODF? We see the public statements, but since Romney is not running for reelection, what happens then? Does Microsoft have another shot at killing it?

Quinn: I believe that the ODF decision will stand. I believe MS will continue to do anything and everything it can to stop it. And I know my seat wasn't even empty and they (MS) took another shot at the title, to no avail. This horse is out of the barn and I see no way for it to go back in. Remember, all we are asking for was and is for Microsoft to commit to open and the standards process; so everyone looks really bad if the plug gets pulled at this juncture.

PJ: What is the latest on the attempt to alter who chooses software for the Commonwealth?

Quinn: The Legislation is still in play as far as I know. I do believe that any one with any common sense is lobbying against it. And I do not think it will be passed in its present form. I sincerely hope that saner heads prevail and policy making and standards remain within the Office of the CIO. Anything less will yield disaster as you can easily see from other states that do not have policy and operations in the same office."

No comments: