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OOXML voting: issues and results

The reports currently circulating the Internet regarding voting procedures in DIN's Standards Committee on Information Technology and Selected IT Applications (NIA) on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 "Office Open XML file formats" are false and misleading.

On 11 March 2008 the NIA working committee responsible for technical aspects of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 held a vote to decide whether the "YES with comments" vote of September 2007 should be maintained as a "YES" vote or changed to a "NO" vote, taking the results of the Ballot Resolution Meeting held in February as a basis for their decision. As correctly reported by an unofficial source, the result of the March 11 vote was 14 to 5 in favour of adopting ISO/IEC DIS 29500 as an ISO Standard. Only the external experts who make up the responsible working committee voted on this matter; DIN as such has no vote on technical content in working committees.
NIA's Steering Committee was NOT called upon to review, and possibly override, the working committee's technical decision - it does not have the authority to do so. It was, however, involved in a decision as to whether or not the voting procedure at ISO correctly adhered to the formal criteria. Because the Steering Committee's decision did not relate to any technical issues or the content of the standard itself, but dealt solely with the formalities of the JTC 1 "fast track" procedure, i.e. adherence to procedural rules in the standardization process, DIN felt it was necessary to take a position on this matter. This is the reason the DIN staff member participated in the voting procedure and did not abstain, as is the rule in questions of technical content.
On 27 March 2008 the NIA Steering Committee members who were entitled to vote did NOT vote on approval or non-approval of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 as an International Standard, but SOLELY on the regularity of the voting procedure itself. With a majority of 7 to 6, and 7 abstentions, the Steering Committee deemed the procedure as being in conformity with the rules, and thus had no reason to override the working committee's "YES" vote. Had the majority of the Steering Committee been convinced that the procedures for developing and voting on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 were in any way irregular, the German vote would have been changed to "ABSTAIN".


Dr. Stefan Weisgerber
Am DIN-Platz
Burggrafenstr. 6
10787 Berlin
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