White House Releases Open Source Software Policy

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The White House has released the Federal Source Code policy, allowing government agencies to access custom software code developed by or for the administration.

That includes a pilot program requiring federal agencies to release to the public at least 20 percent of new custom-made source code as open source software for three years.

"This isn't a novel concept for government," Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott wrote in a blog post.

Case in point: anyone who's interested can already view the code for petition platform We the People, see how the Department of Veterans Affairs built vets.gov, and contribute to the open source code that powers the General Service Administration's data.gov.

"Now we're taking these established best practices government wide," Scott said, touting the promotion of innovation and collaboration across federal agencies. "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."

The move is also meant to cut back on duplicative purchases (using taxpayer dollars) of similar custom software.

"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," Scott promised.

In the coming months, the White House will launch the new code.gov website, where the nation is invited to "unlock the tremendous potential of the federal government's software."

"This is, after all, the people's code," Scott added. "Explore it. Learn from it. Improve it. Use it to propel America's next breakthrough in innovation."

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