Open Source for America Has Lofty Goals, Heavy Hitters

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 22, 2009

The new Open Source for America initiative is starting to get some buzz, with Red Hat, Jaspersoft, Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth, The Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin, and other companies and individuals announcing their participation. Andy Updegrove, who will serve on the project's Board of Advisors, has a good post up explaining project goals. It's aimed at encouraging the use of open source software at the U.S. Federal level, and already has a lot of support.

Open Source for America is to be officially announced at OSCON today, and there is a Charter document available, as well as a press release at the bottom of this page.

According to the Charter document:

"The mission of OSA is to educate decision makers in the U.S. Federal government about the advantages of using free and open source software; to encourage the Federal agencies to give equal priority to procuring free and open source software in all of their procurement decisions; and generally provide an effective voice to the U.S. Federal government on behalf of the open source software community, private industry, academia, and other non-profits."

Andy Updegrove adds:

"While there are many organizations in existence already that promote free and open source software, none of them has been formed as a focal point for promoting FOSS to government. OAS should therefore be able to provide great value not only through its own efforts, but by providing a practical means to coordinate and leverage the efforts of these many organizations already in existence."

Open Source for America has a surprisingly long list of founding member companies behind it, ranging from pure commercial open source players such as Red Hat, Canonical, Alfresco Software, Acquia, and Jaspersoft, to chip maker Advanced Micro Devices, to organizations such as The Electronic Frontier Foundation. The board includes many heavy hitting open source stars, including Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth, The Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin, The GNOME Foundation's Stormy Peters, Tim O'Reilly, Andy Updegrove, Michael Tiemann, and many more.

I'm already a fan of this effort. Open source needs much better evangelists, and the good ones need to work together in federated ways, with focused goals. The Obama administration has expressed desire to switch many federal government software installations from proprietary to open source, and perhaps Open Source for America can help reduce the complexity of that effort. There are also a lot of commercial providers of open source suport, software and services who could benefit from a big shift at the federal level.