Feeds

Open sourcers aim selves at US gov

'Misconceptions' battle

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Advocates who helped shape a major US government department's policy paper on using open-source in IT projects are stepping up their lobby.

Open Source for America plans to push for clear statements on the rules around using open source in government IT across a number of federal departments next year.

The idea is to dispel lingering misconceptions about open source and misinterpretations of the rules around procurement and community licenses that it feels have hampered government's broader use of open source in public projects.

OSA director Bill Vass told The Reg in a recent interview the group will push for policy statements similar to the one issued recently by the US Department of Defense (DoD) inside each major federal agency. The DoD document outlined the cost and technology advantages of open-source and encouraged agencies to consider open-source when pitching projects for tender.

Vass said the OSA will try to meet members of the influential federal chief information officer council. The council develops guidelines for IT policy, procedures, and standards across all US federal government. The council's director is president Obama's federal CIO Vivek Kundra, whose already shown strong early support for open source, in addition to cloud computing, with members including civilians and generals.

The OSA particularly wants each of the major agencies that are already using open source - notably the Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Health and Human Services - to issue policy statements similar to the DoD.

The group also plans to lobby members of Congress and raise awareness through a whitepaper it's producing that lays out six reasons why government should move to open source. Spending less tax-dollars on expensive software licenses, avoiding the need to reinvent code already in the community, and a focus on security are likely to feature.

The push on government follows October's memo from DoD deputy CIO David Wennergren designed to highlight six benefits to using open source and dispel lingering "misconceptions and misinterpretations" in laws, policies, and regulations.

Wennergren pointed to openness of the code and the fact most open-source is not charged using an expensive per-seat basis, meaning it is potentially cheaper to support and buy.

He also encouraged people to take the time to learn about the different licenses, noting confusion exists on the subject of licenses - particularly the GPL.

"There are positive aspects of OSS that should be considered when conducting market research on software for DoD use," Wennergren wrote.

Overseas lessons

Vass said a number of his group's suggestions - culled from observing how governments in other countries such as the UK and Brazil use open source - featured in Wennergren's memo. Open-source representatives began engaging with the DoD two years ago.

Vass said Wennergren could have gone further - actually saying open-source must be evaluated as part of a project rather than suggesting it should be - but he's still happy with the document because there'd been a lot of FUD inside the DoD on using open source.

"They sort of used it and wouldn't tell anyone they were using it because they weren't sure they were allowed to," he said. "You'd go to an intel agency and they'd pick open source because the care about security, and you'd go across the street to an agency in army and their CIO would say you can't use the code because it's open source. This [memo] sets a level playing field.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.