Recently, the Sunlight Foundation, the Congressional Data Coalition and the OpenGovFoundation announced that constituents of the U.S. House of Representatives can now choose open source software over proprietary software to better suit their technology requirements and projects.
“Members, Committees, and staff within the U.S. House of Representatives are now able to use official resources to procure open source software to fully participate in open source software communities, and to contribute software code developed with taxpayer dollars back to the public under open source license,” a June 2015 release stated.
But the U.S. government is just one of many across the globe that are increasingly turning to open source software to reduce IT costs and improve their overall processes with more advanced technologies. We have looked at the government in India who has recently introduced a new policy to make it mandatory for the nation’s government offices to use open source software across the board.
Because open source software enables users and developers to collaborate in an open forum manner, oftentimes the software experiences more rapid innovations than proprietary software, which must be managed, updated and maintained by a closed vendor. As such, open source software is growing increasingly attractive to government members due to its efficiency, reusability and accessibility.
For example, now that the U.S. House of Representatives can leverage open source software, members and committees are able to create tools that benefit taxpayers more suitably than proprietary software could allow. Tools based on open source software—such as the Sunlight Foundation’s tool that alerts users about legislative changes, new regulations, court decisions, etc.—allow the House to quickly and easily share new technologies with the greater public.
Additionally, open source software is also providing improvements for government officials behind the scenes. For instance, the technology is often touted for its ability to streamline data aggregation and analysis. As a result, government officials are able to gain access to real-time analytics which enables them to receive information faster and more easily than with proprietary software that might not have the same speed or quality.
The government’s endorsement of open source software is a milestone for the greater coding community as it substantiates its true value compared to proprietary software.
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