Enterprise Linux Log

Jul 22 2009   5:13PM GMT

DIY government: Open source for America

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

Today, in conjunction with the O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) in San Jose, Calif., more than 70 companies, academic institutions, communities, related groups and individuals announced the formation of Open Source for America, an organization that will serve as a unified voice for the promotion of open source software in the U.S. Federal Government arena.

The mission of Open Source for America:

… is to educate decision makers in the U.S. Federal government about the advantages of using free and open source software; to encourage the Federal agencies to give equal priority to procuring free and open source software in all of their procurement decisions; and generally provide an effective voice to the U.S. Federal government on behalf of the open source software community, private industry, academia, and other non-profits.

Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media presented the program during his keynote at OSCON on Wednesday morning, calling it an unprecedented opportunity for people to get involved with their government. He also tried to dispel the misunderstanding that exists that Gov 2.0 is all about social media. He explained that Gov 2.0 is also about transparency, rapid application development and procurement processes that allow approval of free software for agencies without getting mired in the usual DC bureaucracy.

O’Reilly pointed out that one of President Obama’s first steps in the White House was to issue an open government directive. Gartner has estimated that by 2011 more than 25% of government vertical, domain-specific applications will either be open source, contain open source application components or be developed as community source.

As O’Reilly spoke, he contrasted the old model of government, by the people, for the people to today’s version of government that seems to resemble a vending machine – taxes in, services out. Instead, he encouraged the open source community to view the government as a platform that can provide the tools and services so that we, the people, can do what needs to be done ourselves. He encouraged open source coders to get involved in the Open Source for America project – will you?

For more coverage of OSCON, view the crowdsourced news coverage page.

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