Open Source Well-Positioned for Open Government?

The Obama campaign was founded on hope and change. Our fearless leader promised a new level of openness, not only for major issues like healthcare and corporate financial reporting, but also in the daily operations of the government. Now that he’s been in office 5 months, it’s becoming very clear that such leaps toward transparency will demand a new level of open data, technologically advanced systems, and all at a reduced price.

The Obama campaign was founded on hope and change. Our fearless leader promised a new level of openness, not only for major issues like healthcare and corporate financial reporting, but also in the daily operations of the government. Now that he’s been in office 5 months, it’s becoming very clear that such leaps toward transparency will demand a new level of open data, technologically advanced systems, and all at a reduced price.

"Government organizations at every level are looking to the IT community to provide value, interoperability and choice as they strain to meet the tracking, reporting and engagement demands necessary to serve citizens," said Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft. Unlucky for Microsoft though, it's not the only organization that is on to this. Open source/open data platforms and communities like Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress have been aiming to do just that for both the commercial and public sectors for years now. The overarching goal for platforms like Drupal has always been to advance technology to better serve society while simultaneously reducing the cost of development and deployment by sharing the costs across community contributors and established support networks. These goals translate into direct results for recent Open Government projects by providing for:

  • resource-constrained government agencies to meet new Transparency & Open Government Directives sooner
  • citizens to more fully participate in government initiatives and track actions
  • government agencies to better collaborate and share ideas
  • individuals and organizations to gather information and provide feedback effectively via the web

While it won’t be easy, it is evident that the core principles that govern open source are well aligned with the US Government’s ideas for transparency. Further, Open source communities continue to overcome regulatory hurdles with new security advancements among other critical developments that are ever-improving the viability of open source technologies as a government solution.

Why is open source so important? Bottom-line: because open systems are the best way to maximize external contribution—nationally and globally. The fact that open source technologies holds the key to this effort is a given, widespread acceptance, however, remains the ultimate challenge.

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