FEDweek IT

OMB has published a draft policy to improve the way custom-developed government code is acquired and distributed by requiring that it be made available for reuse across federal agencies.

The draft – available at https://sourcecode.cio.gov – also proposes a pilot program under which covered agencies would be required to release 20 percent of that code publicly as open source. It would require all custom code developed by federal employees as part of their official duties to be made open source as well.

Any software developed for or by the federal government (taxpayer funded) would be made available for sharing and reuse among federal agencies.

The ramifications are many. OMB is trying to decide whether such a policy would increase or decrease competition among vendors, and what impact it might have on costs, project life cycles and transparency.

One of the draft’s goals is to save money by reducing duplicative software purchases and to promote innovation and collaboration among federal agencies. Making code open source leads to external review and can make it more secure, reliable and efficient.

The public comment period for this proposal closes April 11. Comments can be made through GitHub, edits can be suggested through pull requests on GitHub, or comments can be emailed.

There are some thoughtful comments on the draft here and looks like some of the proposed changes could stick one way or another, such as moving away from default boilerplate contracting language that restricts agencies from distributing custom code.