Sun's McNealy Tapped for Government Open Source Ideas

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 21, 2009

If you've been following President Obama's search for a CTO for the country, you may have seen BusinessWeek's report that the choice he will make has narrowed down to two candidates, both born in India. They are, according to the report, Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, and Vivek Kundra, who holds the same title in the government of Washington, D.C. Previously, Google's Eric Schmidt and Sun's Jonathan Schwartz had been rumored to be candidates. Now, ex-Sun CEO Scott McNealy has revealed that he has been asked to prepare a paper for the Obama administration on how open source technologies are the key to a more secure, more efficient government.

According to BBC News:

"The secret to a more secure and cost effective government is through open source technologies and products. The claim comes from one of Silicon Valley's most respected business leaders, Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems. He revealed he has been asked to prepare a paper on the subject for the new administration."

BBC News also quotes McNealy:

"It's intuitively obvious open source is more cost effective and productive than proprietary software," he said. "Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle or any proprietary vendor any money."

McNealy also adds in the interview that he wants to ensure that the country avoids vendor lock-in. This stance has gained increasing traction overseas, with governments in Norway, the U.K., France and elsewhere embracing open source and embracing it specifically to avoid vendor lock-in.

In addition to appointing a solid CTO, it makes sense for the Obama adminstration and whoever gets the CTO job to reach out to experienced technology leaders, and open source leaders. Google's Schmidt, for example, has said he won't consider the CTO job, but there is no reason why he and noted open source visionaries can't submit ideas and be participants in key technology shifts in the country's government.

"It's an accident of history that proprietary standards became so entrenched so early and it's been a colossal expense for government," says McNealy in the BBC interview. Let's hope his paper follows through with a sound open source-based plan for the eventual incoming American CTO.