The results are in for U.S. agencies' use of open source, thanks to a scorecard released today by Open Source for America. The Departments of Defense and Energy had the highest scores, largely due to the fact that they have "published agency-created software code as open source and provide clear guidance identifying open source as a permitted procurement option."
The survey of the federal departments included questions regarding public budgets, use of social media, and open source technologies practices. The Executive Summary states, "[t]he use of open formats, open source software, and open standards enables the government to make data freely available to the public for a variety of purposes, as well as to create programs that are more efficient and consumer-driven."
The Administration generally emphasizes transparency, participation, and collaboration as government goals while maintaining a "technology neutral" policy. Yet they have shown unprecedented interest in open source. Macon Phillips & Dave Cole of whitehouse.gov talked about how open source can help the federal government achieve its engagement and collaboration goals in their OSFA award acceptance speech.
Back in March, my colleague Gunnar Hellekson (the co-chair for OSFA), wrote a great piece about how open source matters to open government. I completely agree that open technologies are one tool that our government leaders can use to help open up the government for better citizen engagement and participation, but I think we all know that these sort of changes don't happen overnight.
Perhaps its no surprise, then, that most agencies on the report card didn't even hit the 50% mark. There's certainly plenty of room for improvement here. However, OSFA stresses that the scores this year (the first year operating under the Open Government Directive and Open Government Plans) should be treated as initial baseline data by which the organization will measure subsequent improvement. I'm really excited to see how the agencies compare next year. Open government powers, activate!