Happy Tenth Anniversary OSL

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Oregon State University Open Source Lab unofficial commemorative logo, celebrating ten years of operation.

This evening Oregon State University Open Source Lab gathered staff, students and friends to celebrate their tenth anniversary.  Was great to see the crew, and exciting to hear about their direction for the next decade.  Their quiet and critical support of community open source projects continues.  Drop in on their web site, and if you’re in the Corvallis, Oregon area, ask for a tour of the OSL; they love to share.

If you’re interested in a light technical overview of OSL’s hosting and network capacity, hosted projects, and growth over the last ten years you can check out OSL director Lance Albertson’s presentation at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) earlier this year.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Source Code Policy: Open and Shared

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Source Code Policy: Open and Shared

On April 6th, 2012 the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) rolled out their brand new Source Code Policy, setting the direction for their agency to consume and contribute to open source software.

As a brand new agency, CFBP is in the enviable position of creating their technology road map on a while sheet of paper.  No legacy systems, no legacy contracts, no legacy skill sets; not your frequent scenario in the federal government.  Unburdened by existing IT operations and entrenched processes based on outdated policies they were free to envision a fresh approach that reflects and supports their public trust mission.

We use open-source software, and we do so because it helps us fulfill our mission.

When we build our own software or contract with a third party to build it for us, we will share the code with the public at no charge.

They may have had the new guy advantage, but they’ve done some great work that makes it easier for other agencies to model.  CFPB has crafted a clear, concise policy for its use and then shared it broadly.  They follow in the footsteps of the Department of Defense, which began producing and refining policy for their agency personnel in this area a number of years ago.  CFPB hopes other agencies will find the policy useful as a reference model and to that end have also shared it on GitHub Gist.

I’ve been privileged to have collaborated with the agency’s chief architect of the policy Matthew Burton over the past five years or so.  I met Matthew about the time he authored a great essay entitled Why I Help the Man (and why you should too) and worked on a project (“Open Intel”) for the U.S. Department of Energy.  Congratulations to Matthew and the team at CFPB for their thoughtful work and leadership in this policy area, and for their creativity in making it a public asset.  And I have to add….thanks for making it one of the easiest reads ever for a federal IT policy.

You can read Matthew’s full official post on the publication of the policy on the agency web site.

Open Government Communities Survey; Be Counted

If you’re involved in Open Government, I encourage you to participate in this first informal open government communities survey. The objective of the short survey is to create a view of the broad community of constituents that comprise the open government movement, with a special interest in understanding the interplay and influence of open source software and the open source community in forwarding their objectives.

The first set of responses collected by September 18th will travel to Northern Ireland for my presentation at the OpenGov Conference in Belfast on September 22nd, 2011. Results of the survey will be shared this fall on the Government Open Source Conference web site (goscon.org). Any questions? email me.

Thanks in advance or your participation!

US Federal Report Card on Open Source, Technology Released

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Following the first year of implementation of the Open Government Directive, a number of valuable reports have addressed the openness and transparency progress made by federal agencies. Today’s Open Source for America (OSFA) report card digs a little deeper into its own domain – Open Source, Open Technology in use in their report on Federal Agencies.  Although the US White House Open Government Directive isn’t explicitly about underlying technology to “get to open”, it’s not gone without notice that open source software drives much of the infrastructure that makes the process work.  I like to think of it as a kind of  Swiss Army knife for open data and transparency.

But read the report, it’s all in there. Read the press release.

OSFA has also made the entire table available for download. Download the report.

According to the release…

The Federal Open Technology Report Card evaluated key indicators of open government and open technologies developed through online crowd sourcing and refined metrics outlined by the OSFA leadership committee. These included questions regarding public budgets, use of social media, and open source technology practices. 2010 marked the first year federal government agencies were operating under the Directive and Open Government Plans, and the results are promising. Many of the agencies scored well, while others have room for improvement. The Report Card assigned a percentage grade to the 15 Cabinet-level departments and agencies use of open source technologies, open formats, and technology tools for citizen engagement.

A few of the agencies graded in the report include:

  • Department of Defense (82 percent)
  • Department of Energy (72 percent)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (55 percent)
  • Department of Homeland Security (55 percent)
  • Department of Transportation (53 percent)

Open Source for America is one of the projects I enjoy working with.  It’s an all volunteer organization, so any time we can beg borrow and borrow our community members’ time to produce a report, it’s something to celebrate.