The White House gets open source

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The White House

I love this video from Dave Cole (Senior Advisor to the CIO, Executive Office of the President) and Macon Phillips (White House Director of New Media). You hear the feds talk a lot about openness and transparency, but not often specifically about open source.  But here, you can see that the White House really gets it.


The video is from last week's Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON), where Open Source for America gave out awards for contributions to open source in and by the US federal government.   Individual winners were Brian Behlendorf, collaboration advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services on its NHIN CONNECT project and Ean Schuessler, co-founder of Brainfood, Inc. and webmaster for OSFA. The Open Source Digital Voting Foundation (OSDV) also won for its TrustTheVote project.

But, of course, the migration of to an open source platform (Drupal) was one of the biggest open source stories in the federal government over the past year, so it's probably not a surprise that it won the award for Outstanding Government Deployment. 

The video acceptance of the award, however, demonstrates that the White House's commitment to open source doesn't stop at simply using open technologies. Here you can see that Cole & Phillips really do believe that open source can fundamentally change the way the US government serves the public, and that they understand the bilateral collaboration that has to happen in order for open source projects to be successful.

Previous sound bites from the Administration have focused on open source as state of the art technology that increases government's ability to engage citizen participation.  That's great in and of itself, but over the past few months, the White House has shown that they're not just consumers - they are contributors and collaborators.  From the release of additional code to Drupal to their support of Civic Commons, these guys understand that open source is about a community coming together to solve common problems in an open and transparent way. 

And if you still have any doubt, just listen to Cole's parting words,   "We want to be involved in the projects you're working on, and have you involved in the projects that we have.  We want to help grow the pipeline of developers and strategists and make this a more vibrant place to do work.  We believe in the benefits of open source and we think there's a partnership there."

Cole and Phillips close by thanking the open source community for the work that it does.  However, it is we, the open source community, who should be thanking them.

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Melanie Chernoff | As Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, Inc., Melanie monitors, evaluates, and works to influence U.S. and international legislation and government regulations affecting open source technologies and open standards. She also serves as chair of the company's Corporate Citizenship committee, coordinating Red Hat's charitable activities.

1 Comment

The White House gets opens source but some of the
departments and agencies downstream haven't gotten
the word yet:

The Open Source Community does have it's foot in the door
at 1600 Pennsylvania, Washington, DC. Now we just have
to walk around town knocking on a few more doors.

This was good news, the video gives one hope.

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