Whereas Open Source for America (OSFA) was created to establish a more effective voice supporting the use of free and open source software in the U.S. Federal government environment and further because many companies, organizations, academic institutions, and individuals support the use of open source software;

Whereas it is the goal of OSFA to provide a venue within which to consolidate these interests;

Whereas OSFA desires to be transparent, pragmatic and reasonable in pursuit of its mission;

Whereas OSFA and its members are committed to performing the policy, public relations, and legislative and regulatory advocacy work needed to inform, encourage and support the Federal government’s utilization of open source software, and to participate in open source software projects, including standards development activities, that are compatible with OSFA’s mission; and

Whereas OSFA recognizes that open source software should rely on open standards developed in a manner that facilitates their implementation;

Now, therefore, OSFA hereby adopts this Charter for governance of its activities.


The mission of OSFA 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. The mission incorporates three goals: (1) to effectuate changes in U.S. Federal government policies and practices so that all the government may more fully benefit from and utilize free and open source software; (2) to help coordinate these communities to collaborate with the Federal government on technology requirements; and (3) to raise awareness and create understanding among federal government leaders in the executive and legislative branches about the values and implications of open source software. OSFA may also participate in standards development and other activities that may support its open source mission.


OSFA and its members agree to the following founding principles.

1. While respecting the right of every developer to choose the license that it believes best reflects its desires and needs, we support the four freedoms in the Free Software Definition.

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0);
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this;
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2); and
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

2. We applaud the commitment of the Administration to make the U.S. Federal government more transparent, participatory, secure, and efficient, and urge the U.S. Federal government to pursue this goal by leveraging the advantages of free and open source software.

3. We believe that the community can drive collaborative innovation in the U.S. government space, resulting in greater efficiencies and national competitiveness.

4. We believe the decision to use software should be driven solely by the requirements of the user, and not by a mandate for a particular brand, vendor, or development model.


Membership is open to any entity or person who submits an OSFA membership application which consists, in part, of a commitment of support for OSFA’s mission and founding principles. Membership applications, which shall also consist of disclosure of contact information, including physical address and other logistical information, will be subject to administrative verification to eliminate spammers and others interested in exploiting the membership list rather than helping OSFA members achieve their goals. Membership offers three possible levels of participation:(1) general membership; (2) Steering Committee; and (3) Board of Advisors.

1. General Membership. General members will have the ability to participate in OSFA’s activities and will be given notice of OSFA’s activities and progress made towards achievement of goals. No contribution or fee is required for general membership. Members may participate in work groups established by the Steering Committee. OSFA may maintain a list of founding members who joined at the outset.

2. Steering Committee. OSFA is governed by a Steering Committee composed of at least five representatives from a core group of companies, trade associations, think tanks, advocacy organizations, academic institutions, and individuals that have agreed to contribute financially to OSFA, to provide certain in-kind services, or otherwise to provide value. The Steering Committee manages the daily activities of OSFA and, pursuant to Article 6, is authorized to appoint an agent to fulfill certain administrative functions. Pursuant to Article 7, the Steering Committee is authorized to amend this Charter. The Steering Committee also selects members of the Board of Advisors and may identify work groups to focus on the availability and desirability of adoption of open source software for a specific government area and to make recommendations to government to adopt such software, including but not limited to, in the areas of public administration, open government, healthcare, energy, education, public utilities and defense. If the Steering Committee creates a work group, it will appoint the group’s leadership and play a coordinating role between the group and OSFA. The Steering Committee shall determine its own size beyond five representatives, and shall nominate and elect all of its committee members.

3. Board of Advisors. The Board of Advisors consists of selected senior executives of open source companies, visionaries of open source and other leaders in the open source community. The Steering Committee will receive nominations for the Board of Advisors.


OSFA and its members share a commitment to ensure that all OSFA activities are conducted in full compliance with all applicable U.S. and foreign antitrust and competition laws. This commitment means in particular that members in the course of OSFA activities will NOT discuss, collaborate on or exchange information regarding (a) product or service prices, pricing policies or practices or any other sales terms or conditions; (b) product or service costs, production plans or volumes, capacity, R&D plans, or distribution or marketing plans; (c) intentions to deal or not deal with any particular customers or other third parties; (d) market or customer allocation plans; or (e) any other company-specific confidential and competitively sensitive information.

OSFA and its members embrace the idea of promoting the role of open source software as a contributor to the growth of robustly competitive markets throughout the economy. To the extent that this idea is pursued through OSFA’s participation in standards development activities, it will be pursued through support for processes that conform to “best practices” in creating open standards.


OSFA and its members share a commitment to ensure that all OSFA activities are conducted in compliance with applicable intellectual property laws. Whenever OSFA and its members participate in standards development activities within or on OSFA’s behalf, OSFA and any of its contributing members will agree to promote polices and procedures that require the disclosure of relevant or potentially relevant intellectual property and, to the extent permitted under applicable antitrust and competition laws, related licensing terms sufficiently prior to adoption of a standard to be considered by all participants and to enable evaluation of technical, cost and competitive issues relating to such intellectual property in such a manner as to achieve a balance of interest and consensus prior to adoption of the standard.

OSFA may own a trademark or service mark (or trademarks or service marks) in its own name and any associated design, and such other names and designs that the Steering Committee may identify as requiring trademark protection. OSFA may also operate a website in such a manner as to both respect copyright law and satisfy OSFA’s mission and membership.

In the event that OSFA undertakes to develop any standards itself, an appropriate intellectual property rights policy will be adopted by the Steering Committee and announced to the members not less than 30 days prior to the prospective effective date of that policy.

OSFA and its members share a strong commitment to the protection of privacy rights and personal information.  OSFA’s privacy policies will be made available to the public on its website.


Pursuant to authority granted by the Steering Committee, an agent may act as OSFA’s representative for mail, notice, service or other similar administrative issues.


Pursuant to Article 3, the Charter may be amended by a two-thirds vote of a majority of the members of the Steering Committee.  Prior to such a vote, written notice of a motion to amend must be provided to Steering Committee members and the general membership.


OSFA may be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of a majority of the members of the Steering Committee.  Prior to such a vote, written notice of a motion to dissolve must be provided to Steering Committee members.