[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[DotGNU]Open Source/Free Software in the Federal Government

From: Tony Stanco
Subject: [DotGNU]Open Source/Free Software in the Federal Government
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 19:38:00 -0500

We (Cyberspace Policy Institute) had our monthly Open Source in e-Government
session with GSA and NSF yesterday. Grant from NewsForge covered our working group and has a story up
[]. The
interesting things that came out yesterday is that Census built an award
winning site all on Open Source with only volunteers, because it had no
budget for the project. People were amazed that if work gets recognized and
awarded that it wouldn't be funded. Well, the presenters said they
purposefully don't quantify the savings because otherwise they lose the
money for their group in the next budget.

The other thing said which is totally absurd came from a couple of NOAA IT
people in the audience. Their CTO came to them with a project on a napkin
and said, "implement this." A couple of days later they had done it on MySQL
and gave it to the CTO. He said "great, let's implement it." They said, "you
don't understand, it's done." Well, he didn't accept that and brought in a
major consulting firm which brought in a well know database company. A year
and millions of dollars later, it is still not working. When the CTO came
back to them and asked what was going on, they said they looked at each
other and just shrugged :-). Another person there who by coincidence is
connected with a high level NOAA person said the official story given to the
executive people on that incident was that MySQL was not robust enough and
that is why they had to go proprietary. The NOAA IT people said that was
just plain BS.

I was at FOSE today and went to the CIO Council Keynote and the smaller
session with the CIO Council and asked them about the use of Open Source in
Government at both, citing the examples from NSA's SELinux, Census and NOAA
from yesterday. Long story short - they are looking at it at the highest
levels, though they still have some issues to overcome to get comfortable
like support and implications of the license. I didn't push it to say those
are no longer issues, because you don't make friends in this town by
embarassing important people in front of large audiences. However, I will be
seeing these same people in April in Florida with IBM to address their
support issues. On the legal issues, I am working with Eben Moglen, general
counsel of the Free Software Foundation, who enforces the GPL, to have legal
panels to the practicing government lawyers next year. The NSA lawyers who
got themselves comfortable with the GPL on NSA's SELinux project will be on
the panel. Agency lawyers to agency lawyers is how we will overcome their
second issue.

So, the good news from FOSE is that Open Source is on the radar screen at
the highest levels in government and they would like to see it happen. The
bad news is that there is still some work to do to get them completely on
side. So the struggle goes on...

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]