Possible manipulation around OOXML process in Poland

[ Thursday, 27 March 2008, michuk ]

This is a follow-up post to my recent report on OOXML process in Poland. It looks like things are going bad this time. At least as bad as in September.

We have already mentioned the letter from Tomasz Schweitzer, president of PKN in which he asked KT 182 (techical committee reposnsible for OOXML standarization process in Poland) to “abstain from voting” in case of not achieving a consensus over OOXML during the (Thursday’s) meeting. Here is an (translated) extract from the letter, again:

[…]Polish stance on OOXML should be a result of a consensus, that is no significant opposition from any interestedparty. I believe that in the existing situation, the most fair and neutral decision KT 182 could make is to abstain from voting. I would like to however emphasize once again that the final decision belongs to the committee.

The letter was sent on February 26, 2008 to KT 182 chairman, Elżbieta Andrukiewicz and was supposed to be distributed among the KT 182 members (it was addressed to the chairman and all the members). However, a source close to KT 182 releveled that no one in the committee knew about the letter since Andrukiewicz didn’t even bother informing the members about the letter and replied to Schweitzer on her own. The PKN president was so surprised that Andrukiewicz decided not to distribute it that he made the letter available on the Internet (here is the original [in Polish]). As far as I know such situation is a precedence in 84-year history of PKN.

Just to remind you, on Thursday’s meeting 12 members voted for OOXML, 10 members voted against it and 2 abstained from voting. As the consensus has not been achieved, Andrukiewicz decided that the voting should continue by e-mail and all the missing members should be allowed to vote. What she did not mention is that if the missing members fail to send her an e-mail with their stance, it will be automatically assumed they vote yes. This is one of the crazy rules of PKN process of opinioning new ISO standards.

Am I the only one who thinks this process is seriously flawed?

Following the meeting, more interesting stuff took place. The IBM representative for KT 182 accused Andrukiewicz of intentionally manipulating the process. He claimed that the fact of not revealing the letter could influence the members voting and the process in general. It’s not the only accusation, though. Andrukiewicz, while presenting the results of the Geneva Ballot Resolution Meeting on OOXML, presented the same slides the delegate from Brazil wrote about in his summary of the BRM:

Mr Barta informed Mr. Oh (the secretary of SC34, from Japan, author of that slide and the person that was presenting it) that that slide and those numbers SHALL NEVER leave that room, because they didn’t summarize nor represent the results of the meeting. The slide didn’t also explain the process used by the meeting so it is meaningless to the people that wasn’t at the BRM.

In general the slides presented a false impression of the results of the BRM, claiming that 98% of the OOXML issues have been resolved during the meeting which is obviously not true. What is even more interesting is the real author of the slides. An anonymous KT 182 member confirmed that basing on the properties of the PowerPoint file which the members received, the author is Raul Pesch, Platform Strategy Manager, Microsoft Nederland.

Andrukiewicz obviously did not agree with the charges and, amazingly threatened to sue anyone who distributes these accusations. I’m waiting for my lawsuit to arrive any time now :)

It’s also worth mentioning that the European Commission is currently investingating the Polish OOXML standarization process. Schewitzer, PKN’s president has been already questioned by the EU representative. There has been already doubts about the process last year (after moving the OOXML case from KT171 to KT182 for unknown reasons), when the EU representative called the process “according to the rules but certainly not fair”.

To sum things up:

  • The letter from PKN recommending KT to abstain has been kept secret.
  • Currenlty there is no (required) concensus about OOXML in KT182 (unless you count the missing votes as conciously accepting the recommendation, which seems like absurd reasoning).
  • There is still no official decision of PKN concerning the OOXML (but one can easily predict it…)
  • A couple of lawsuits are possibly on the way
  • EU investigation is in place

Be sure I will pass more info as soon as I know anything more.

Update 28.03.2008: It’s official: Poland confirms its approval for OOXML in ISO. Game over.

About the Author

Borys Musielak

PolishLinux.org creator and editor in chief. Professionally -- J2EE consultant in London City. Personally -- free software enthusiast and lobbyist.

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