Attacking open source because it's democratic | Opensource.com

Attacking open source because it's democratic

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I get it. Anything the Democrats want, Republicans oppose. If Democrats make concessions toward Republicans, Republicans reject the concessions and make new demands.

But this is absurd.

The Electronic Government Fund has been one of the most effective expenditures of the last few decades. Not only has it helped identify projects that need to be cut, but in the process it has produced impressive open source software that makes American businesses more competitive.

Yet partisan "deficit hawks" are scheming to eliminate it, cutting the budget from a paltry $34 million to $2 million, barely enough to keep the lights on, starting now.

What would this cut kill? Take a look:

  • Data.Gov, which aggregates all government data sets in one location
  • USASpending.gov, which identifies where government contracts are going. 
  • Recalls.gov, which lets you learn about product recalls at the point of sale, as well as all other mobile government applications.
  • Challenge.gov, which collects citizen input on programs and can lead to funding for good ideas.
  • The IT Dashboard, which we highlighted last week, allowing the tracking of government software projects.
  • Fedspace.gov, a wiki enabling coordination of work between government departments.
  • app.gov/now, which enables departments to launch their own wikis at no cost.

There's no excuse for this. Even the Tea Party Express wants this kind of government transparency and effectiveness. The only people who benefit from these cuts are lobbyists whose advantage lies in exclusive access to information. And if I were really a tribune of the people (as these new Republicans claim to be) I would be making some phone calls right now to see who came up with this harebrained scheme and how fast they can be fired.

Remember, we're not talking about deficit reduction here, or even a smaller government. We're talking about $34 million that has already produced some incredible tools for creating a smaller government and reducing the deficit. It's like stabbing out your own eyes in the name of better eye care.

The Sunlight Foundation, which has pushed for these kinds of programs for years, has just begun banging the drum to save the data and restore the cuts. We need to fight for these effective programs, and this good software, now, hard, because it's the only access to government most of us have.

And once that fight is won, we need to shed some sunlight on the asshats who got this proposal through to this stage, and make sure they're kicked out of Washington for good.

About the author

Dana Blankenhorn - Writer, journalist, futurist. Currently gigs Informationweek.com, renewableenergyworld.com, AltEnergyStocks.com, seekingalpha. Hungry for more.