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Coalition Pushes To Make Gov't More Open (Source)

Open source software continues to make inroads into the federal government, and a new organization to promote open source applications has been established.

Open Source for America (OSA) is a coalition of more than 50 companies, academic institutions, communities of interest and related groups whose goal is to advocate for greater acceptance of the use of open source software in government information technology systems.

OSA will work to change policies and practices to allow the federal government to better utilize these technologies; coordinate with communities to collaborate with the government on technology requirements; and raise awareness and create understanding among government leaders about the values and implications of open source software.

"Open source software can help deliver improved government service, plain and simple, and the [Obama] administration recognizes this more than any in our nation's history," said David Thomas, principal with Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti and spokesman for the OSA campaign.

Moving to open source could save the government billions of dollars, as well as make government IT deployment more secure and faster to deploy with greater privacy and the ability to eliminate vendor lock-in, Thomas added.

Gartner Research recently estimated that by 2011, more than 25 percent of government vertical, domain-specific applications will either be open source, contain open source application components or be developed as community source.

Several agencies already are using open source applications, with themost recent being the U.S. Postal Service. Other agencies that have put open source software to work include:

  • The Homeland Security Department, which is funding a program that will help federal, state and local agencies better understand their options for using open source software.

  • The Defense Information Systems Agency, which is planning to open source a suite of programs that it developed for administrative tasks. The agency has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) to help release the source code of the programs.

  • The Defense Department, which launched the Forge.mil Web site earlier this year for developers to work on open source software projects specifically for DOD.

  • NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which has established a Web site for open source projects developed by center personnel for mission needs.

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