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Friday, December 12, 2003

Open source and the government 

via Jon Udell

Jonathan Bollers, vice president and chief engineer at Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), says that SAIC forks open source projects for in-house development "almost without exception." The problem is that although there is often a desire to give back, it's "a tedious process fraught with more heartache than benefits." The bureaucratic hurdles include security considerations, export controls, and a host of other issues that Bollers sums up as "releasability remediation."

He asks a crucial question and proposes an intriguing answer:

"So how can the defense community give back, apart from well-shrouded blogging, discussion and Usenet postings, and seeding academic research? How can we be viewed as good open source citizens by releasing remediated code?

"In many cases, defense-related development could be a boon to those entrepreneurs engaged in IT commercialization. Modular and well-structured code, properly tagged for defense-sensitive algorithms, functions, identifiers, and key words could be effectively re-released as open source.

"The government might consider incentives for those in the IT contracting business, perhaps in the form of additional fees, credits, or preferential rating for future procurements, to remediate via software engineering for reuse processes that specifically target release to open source.

"These two-way-street incentives would not only revitalize thoughts and ideas in the open source community, they may also be the harbinger for the next wave of technical innovation in the post 'new-economy' economy."

Excellent idea! I'd love to see some of my tax dollars directed toward that end.


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