I have an extremely difficult time believing that any of the people who support requiring government entities to use OpenDocument file formats (ODF) instead of the corresponding Office versions have any motives other than: (1) stickin' it to big brother Microsoft, or (2) purely selfish financial reasons. Now, #2 I can completely understand. Obviously IBM and Sun want governments to pass laws that require government minions to use file formats that IBM and Sun back and sell software for. #1... whatever. There are legions of nerds who want nothing more than for Microsoft to fail. These people occasionally grow up and become IT managers and carry their weird vendetta with them to their position of power, which is somewhat disturbing, but oh well.
The reason that people who back these kinds of laws always give is that it's a way to ensure that documents written today can be read long in the future. It's impressive that people can write this without cracking up, even on the internet, because it's hilariously dumb. If you want your documents to be readable long in the future, the only logical choice is to either store them in a format that is plain text or trivial to convert to plain text, or to use a format backed by a large organization and already used in thousands of huge enterprises. There are trillions of dollars' worth of information stored in Office documents. It will never be hard to read those documents. It just doesn't make sense. As long as there is valuable data in those documents, there will be companies willing to sell you a way to open them. If Microsoft was blasted into oblivion by a nuclear missile this Friday (three-day weekend!), all its source code backups were destroyed, and the company ground into dust, there will still be people making viewers and converters for Office documents long after my dust is providing valuable nutrients to the daisies planted above me. Capitalism works.
And though no one will believe me, it has nothing to do with Microsoft being involved. I have some minor concerns with choosing a read-only format for storing even archival documents, but regardless, if we have to have an archival standard, PDF makes almost as much sense as the Office formats. PDF viewers generally suck, but PDFs are still ubiquitous. Microsoft's similar XPS format would be a poor choice because nobody uses it. Maybe someday, but certainly not today.
However, I don't think we need a mandate. The magic of capitalism, and just how file formats work, is that whatever people use becomes popular. Whatever is popular now will be supported forever. Perhaps in the past this was not necessarily true, but it is today. Perhaps you don't remember when JPEG files and GIF files were nontrivial to open. That's almost unbelievable today. Do you think that it's going to be hard to open JPEGs and GIFs in the year 2100? I don't.
If we do need a mandate, it's that documents aren't unnecessarily encrypted.
Anyone advocating mandates that only OpenDocument and its kin be used by government agencies does not have your interests in mind. They are acting completely for their own selfish reasons. That is, unless they truly believe that ODF is a logical choice, in which case they may be only insane. If either of those is true, I don't really want those people making policy decisions that affect me. Our government is clueless enough about technology as it is without any more batty nonsense like a file format mandate.
Currently listening: Rihanna—Umbrella