What We’re Reading

NASA launches open source web site

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the US, has launched code.nasa.gov, a web site that will serve as the central source of information about the agency’s open source projects. The site, which is still in early alpha, is intended to help unify and expand NASA’s open source activities

UK Government publishes open source guidelines

by: Steve Evans, Published 04 November 2011
UK govt wants to dispel some of the myths around open source software
The toolkit contains information on procuring open source software as well as guides to vendors and what sort of costs are likely to be associated with going down the open source route.

In total the toolkit, available on the Cabinet Office’s website, contains six documents: All About Open Source – including FAQs, ICT Advice Note – Procurement of Open Source, Procurement Policy Note on Open Source, OSS Options, CESG Guidance on Open Source and Total Cost of Ownership.


Open Source for America recognizes 2011 Open Source Awards Winners

Open Source for America (OSFA) is excited to announce the winners of our second annual Open Source Awards program, recognizing individuals, projects and deployments for their role in advancing the adoption of free and open source software in federal government agencies. Winners were honored during FedTalks 2011, held in October in Washington, D.C.

Open Source for America’s 2011 Open Source Awards were sponsored by LinuxBox, HP, Red Hat, Brainfood, and EnterpriseDB. For more information on the awards, visit http://opensourceforamerica.org/awards.

2011 Open Source Award Winners

Open Source Deployment in Government

This award honors a U.S. government agency or body that has shown commitment to the use of open source, through policy and/or adoption. The 2011 winner is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate‘s Homeland Open Security Technology (HOST) program. DHS S&T is the sponsor and driving force behind the HOST program. The mission of the HOST program is to investigate open security methods, models and technologies and identify viable and sustainable approaches that support national cyber security objectives. To achieve this mission, HOST will lead efforts of discovery, collaboration and seeding development in open source software and practices that produce a measurable impact. DHS S&T has committed $10 million to fund the HOST program for up to five years and is openly promoting the adoption of open source solutions in Federal, state and local government agencies.

Open Source Project

This award recognizes an open source project that has shown promise and benefit for U.S. government use. The 2011 winner is the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) for its OpenLayers web mapping project. OpenLayers makes it easy to put a dynamic map in any web page. It can display map tiles and markers loaded from any source. OpenLayers has been developed to further the use of geographic information of all kinds. OpenLayers is completely free, Open Source JavaScript, released under the 2-clause BSD License (also known as the FreeBSD). As a framework, OpenLayers is intended to separate map tools from map data so that all the tools can operate on all the data sources. This separation breaks the proprietary silos that earlier GIS revolutions have taught civilization to avoid. OSGeo believes the mapping revolution on the public web should benefit from the experience of history.

Individual Awards

These awards recognize one internal OSFA member and one external contributor who have made significant contributions in the promotion and use of open source solutions in the U.S. government during the past year. The 2011 winners are David A. Wheeler of the Institute for Defense Analyses and Melanie Chernoff, Public Policy Manager at Red Hat.

Wheeler is the 2011 external contributor award winner for over a decade of advocacy for open source in the Defense Department. Through whitepapers and monographs like “Why Open Source Software / Free Software? Look at the Numbers!” and “Nearly all FLOSS is Commercial,” not to mention his preternatural knowledge of DOD procurement rules, Wheeler has provided the open source community with the advocacy tools we use every day.

Chernoff, one of the founding members of OSFA, is the 2011 internal OSFA member award winner for her tireless work behind the scenes of OSFA. She has been involved in nearly every aspect of the organization from the very beginning: the infrastructure team, the policy team, and the marketing team have all benefited from her work. She even drafted the organization’s founding documents.

To join Open Source for America and help build support for the use of open source technologies, visit the OSFA website at http://www.opensourceforamerica.org.

U.S. CIO: Changing the Culture of Federal IT

By Tom Kaneshige Thu, October 27, 2011

Only two months into the job, VanRoekel was soon in awe of the sweeping federal IT landscape.
What about people who want to keep things the same?
“There’s a great business for someone,” VanRoekel jokes. “Create a front plate of a server with blinking lights on it but no hardware behind it. People can look at it and say, ‘There’s my server.’ Then we just virtualize it and put it all somewhere in the cloud.”

Video: Open Technology Development: Lessons Learned

Our own John Scott of Radiant Blue explains the Open Technology Development: Lessons Learned paper from the Secretary of Defense.

Open Technology Development (OTD) on Vimeo.

Government moves to ease security restrictions stifling cloud and open source

Article in the computerweekly.com by Mark Ballard on Friday 30 September 2011 11:53

The government’s IT security arm, CESG, has begun relaxing security restrictions on the software it approves for public sector use to accommodate Cabinet Office plans for cloud computing and wider use of open source.

The electronics and computing arm of GCHQ has begun reforming its accreditations of IT suppliers to prevent CESG becoming an obstacle to the G-Cloud, through which the Cabinet Office intends to introduce a more liberal procurement regime.
More here:


  • reforms aimed to avoid putting SME suppliers through a “relentless”, “long-winded” and “burdensome” process “where you need to jump through x-many hoops”.
  • remove the obstacle CESG’s software certification process had put in the way of the local authority’s attempts to build an open source computing infrastructure.

Promoting Open Source Software in Government: The Challenges of Motivation and Follow-Through

by Andrew Oram

This is a prepublication version of an article published in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Volume 8, Issue 3, July-September 2011, copyright Taylor & Francis.
See permission notes here: http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/09/promoting-open-source-software.html

Discusses: “the four main criteria for successful adoption of open source by government agencies:

1. An external trigger, such as a deadline for upgrading existing software
2. An emphasis on strategic goals, rather than a naive focus on cost
3. A principled commitment to open source among managers and IT staff responsible for making the transition, accompanied by the technical sophistication and creativity to implement an open source strategy
4. High-level support at the policy-making level, such as the legislature or city council