2010. január 24., vasárnap

USA: Proposed Guidelines For Open Government Plans

Open Source for America (OSFA) represents more than 1,500 businesses, associations, non-governmental organizations, communities, and academic/research institutions who have come together to support and guide federal efforts to make the U.S. Government more open through the use of free and open source software. We applaud the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative and the December 8th Directive requiring all federal agencies to promulgate Open Government Plans. We offer the following recommendations for essential elements that belong in every Open Government Plan:


Citizens should have opportunities to meaningfully participate in their government's work. This means that the government should actively solicit citizen input in its solicitations and internal rule-making. Open Source for America believes that citizen-created open source software is an invaluable resource to agencies as they accomplish their mission. There is also a tremendous opportunity to capture the innovation and ingenuity of government employees, who have the means to create their own tools to make themselves more effective, rather than waiting for a cumbersome and unresponsive procurement process. Open source software is, in fact, the most concrete form of participation available to the government's constituents and its employees.

  • Agencies should provide a means to receive unsolicited suggestions for free and open source software tools and software that can help them accomplish their missions.
  • Agencies should encourage competitive bid reviews for procurements and clearly identify and explain all sole-source procurement decisions.
  • Agency procurement rules should explicitly reject preferences for particular products or development models.
  • Agencies should have a mechanism for efficiently responding to public input through online sources.


Collaboration between agencies and its constituents is often conducted through comments on proposed rule-making and advisory councils. Open Source for America believes that while citizen participation is important, a deep and ongoing collaboration with its constituents helps agencies become more responsive and accountable to their constituents. Open Source for America believes that free and open source software provides a concrete and immediate means for an agency to work with its constituents.

  • Agencies should use online tools, such as wikis, forums and social media, to solicit public input and feedback on policy and procurement.
  • Agencies should allow federal employees and contractors to participate in open source software development initiatives where such efforts contribute to the federal mission.
  • Agencies should have issued policy guidance promoting the identification and removal of any improper barriers to the agencies' effective development and use of open source software.
  • Agencies should facilitate the sharing of software source code and associated design documents across each agency, as has been done with forge.mil at the DOD.
  • Agencies should have policies encouraging and clarifying the circumstances permitting the sharing of software code, code fixes and code enhancements with the larger community, as has been done with NHIN Connect at HHS and Virtual USA at DHS.


Open Source for America strongly believes that a more transparent government is more efficient and accountable to its constituents. Under the Open Government Directive, transparency means the prompt release of government documents and data to the Internet. This increases accountability, and also provides a tremendous opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship. Open data from the National Weather Service, for example, has created a multi-billion dollar weather forecasting industry. We believe that transparency can be much more. Open tools, like open data, can spur innovation, increase accountability, and make the government more efficient.

  • Agencies should strive to make the source code for their internal applications available to the public and other agencies, as DISA has done with its Open Source Corporate Management System (OSCMIS).
  • Agency budget and procurement details should be clearly published on public web sites and easily downloaded.
  • Agencies should conduct regular reviews of classified materials, including software, to encourage declassification wherever possible, and restrict access only by exception.
  • Agencies should publicize private sponsorships for fact-finding trips and receipt of all free “product samples,” goods or services received from outside parties.
  • Agencies should publish lists of “approved products” available for agency procurement, where they exist.
  • Agencies should publish logs that inform the public of ex parte policy discussions and would-be vendor solicitations.
  • Agencies should use and accept open file format standards when seeking public input or announcing agency policy.
  • Agency publications and data distributed in royalty- or patent-encumbered formats should also be made available in open formats.

Source: OSFA