OMB says its newly announced open source policy will help federal agencies avoid duplicative custom software purchases and will promote innovation and collaboration across the government.
“By opening more of our code to the brightest minds inside and outside of government, we can enable them to work together to ensure that the code is reliable and effective in furthering our national objectives. And we can do all of this while remaining consistent with the federal government’s long-standing policy of technology neutrality, through which we seek to ensure that federal investments in IT are merit-based, improve the performance of our government, and create value for the American people,” said an announcement from U.S. CIO Tony Scott.
The policy, OMB memo M-16-21, requires new custom-developed source code developed specifically by or for the federal government to be made available for sharing and re-use across all agencies. It also includes a pilot program that will require agencies to release at least a portion of new custom-developed source code to the public.
Scott noted that the policy builds on pre-existing initiatives that for example allow viewing of the source code for the White House online petition platform, and of the vets.gov and data.gov sites.
“As agencies across the federal government take steps to improve access to their source code, the amount of available federal open source software will grow. In the coming months, we will launch a new website, code.gov, so that our nation can continue to unlock the tremendous potential of the federal government’s software,” Scott said.