California Warms Up to Open Source Software in Government

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 11, 2010

The ever-progressive State of California has publicly come out in favor of open source as a viable software option for its governemnt. Cnet's Matt Asay points to a policy letter [PDF] issued last week that asserts, "the use of Open Source Software (OSS) in California state government [has now been formally established] as an acceptable practice."

That's great news for the mainstream advancement of FOSS, but will it be enough to help the overburdened state out of its $20 billion budget deficit?

"California's official open-source policy doesn't make its adoption mandatory, but California citizens may take heart that it's now acceptable for the state to save them money by intelligent adoption of open-source software. Perhaps this will spark increased adoption of open source within the state," notes Asay.

Author and FOSS developer David A. Wheeler agrees. "I think this is a big deal," he writes. "Officially saying 'it’s okay to use free/libre/open source software (FLOSS)' is really important before FLOSS can get widespread use in governments. Most technologists already understand the potential advantages of FLOSS, but they encounter a lot of resistance when they try to use or develop FLOSS in large organizations like governments. Far too many middle managers are instinctively afraid of change from 'the way we’ve always done it'...When top officials give official 'top cover' permission to consider FLOSS, then the technologists and middle managers are far more likely to fairly and honestly consider them."

Of course, this isn't the state's first foray into open source software. The California Open Source Textbook Project has taken flight recentlyand no doubt helped pave the way for the more widespread adoption of open source within the government. Let's hope it's a harbinger of more good things to come.