Monday, July 4, 2011

US Government and open source software

In a short memo on January 7 2011, the US Chief Information Officer, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, and the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator sent a joint message to all US government chief information officers and procurement executives. The "technology neutrality" memo stated: "In the context of developing requirements and planning acquisitions for software ... agencies should analyze alternatives that include proprietary, open source, and mixed source technologies."

As Fred Blauer & Associates comments in their blog post from late January:
At one level, the directive is a reiteration of prior US Government policy, which requires agencies to adopt technology and vendor neutrality in acquisitions for IT, and which emphasizes procurement choices based on performance and value, free of preconceived preferences based on how the technology is developed, licensed or distributed. In 2004, for example, the OMB made clear that open source was commercial software, and in October 2009, the Department of Defense published clarifying guidance that sought to dispel much of the prejudicial ‘fear, uncertainty and doubt’ that surrounds open source technology.
However, the ‘technology neutrality’ memorandum also takes the policy an important step further. Because it is signed by three leading Government officials responsible for federal procurement, IT reform and the protection of intellectual property, this memorandum unequivocally places open source solutions in the mainstream of Government procurement options.

I work in FreeDOS specifically, but I'm an advocate for open source software in general. So it's good to see the US Government set these guidelines that put open source software on a more equal footing with proprietary software.

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