Despite the U.S. CIO's Exit, Open Source Is Entrenched in the Federal Government

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 29, 2011

In mid-June, as the United States' first federal CIO, Vivek Kundra (shown), announced that he has decided to leave his post, many people wondered if the open source initiatives that he drove in his short time as CIO would fade with him. Well-versed in open source technologies, Kundra had promised to overhaul the way the government deployed and managed its technology, with a special focus on decreasing costs. As recently as April of this year, we took note of two open source tools called IT Dashboard and TechStat that Kundra oversaw the development of as well as releasing them for public availability. According to Kundra, the tools led to over $3 billion of cost savings in the U.S. government. Now, a nonprofit is taking note of the fact that many open source initiatives are alive and well in the U.S. government's pipeline, and there is much interest in Android.

Network World has an interesting interview with reprsentatives from the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI). The interview notes that NASA teamed up with Rackspace to develop OpenStack, the open source platform for building cloud computing deployments, and it details how OSSI has worked on the Department of Homeland Security's Open Security Technology program, which seeks open source solutions to security problems. OSSI official AJ Jaghori says in the interview:

 "95% of all agencies that I've talked to have begun looking at Android. [The agencies are intrigued by] 'the ability to bring an operating system like Android and really call it your own, develop around it."

As a matter of fact, in April, we reported on how the U.S. Army is pursuing an Android smartphone strategy for soldiers. The Army's strategy is open enough that it allows for third-party developers to build applications that might be meaningful for soldiers. In all likelihood, this effort will help other branches of the U.S. military adopt Android.

Kundra's exit is a loss for those who liked his leanings toward open source, and his promises to transform government use of technology with it. But there are increasing signs that branches of the government ranging from NASA to the military will continue to pursue open source initiatives. For his part, Kundra proved during his two-year run as CIO that open source can save the government billions of dollars, and create new efficiencies.