Governments around the world are considering implementing or even mandating open standards policies. They believe these policies will provide economic, socioâ€“political, and technical benefits. In this article, we analyze the failure of the Massachusettsâ€™s open standards policy as applied to document formats. We argue it failed due to the lack of running code. Running code refers to multiple independent, interoperable implementations of an open standard. With running code, users have choice in their adoption of a software product and consequently economic and technological benefits. We urge governments to incorporate a â€œrunning codeâ€ requirement when adopting an open standards policy.