U.S. government releases federal open source policy

Photo: U.S. Air Force
Photo: U.S. Air Force

The White House has published a federal source code policy that requires custom code paid for by the U.S. government be made available to all federal agencies, and a portion be released to the public.

“Covered agencies that enter into agreements for the development of software should require unlimited data rights in accordance with this policy,” says the policy.

As part of a pilot program, covered agencies are required to release at minimum 20 percent of custom developed code, and the Office of Management and Budget will release an impact assessment in 120 days.

According to the White House, the policy “does not require that existing custom-developed source code created by third party developers or vendors for the Federal Government be retroactively made available.”

Because the U.S. government spends so much on code development, this is a huge step forward for government-inspired technology innovation, and it will be interesting to see how much federal contractors push back on this policy, as most consider this to be their own intellectual property.

The full innovation and economics benefits of this policy will be realized once all code can be released to the public.

There is a 30-day public comment period (deadline April 11), and feedback can be submitted via the GitHub repo issues, a pull request or emailed to sourcecode@omb.eop.gov.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

2 Responses

  1. This is long over-due. There are many companies who have built massive Public Sector practices on building one-off projects for government. But, technology is pervasive enough at this point that there is no need to reinvent the wheel with every IT project.


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