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New Coalition Promotes Open Source Software in Government

July 24, 2009 -  A broad cross-section of more than 70 companies, academic institutions, communities, related groups and individuals joined together to announce the formation of Open Source for America, an organization dedicated to the promotion of open source software in the U.S. Federal Government arena. 

The mission of Open Source for America is to serve as a centralized advocate and to encourage broader U.S. Federal Government support of and participation in free and open source software. Specifically, Open Source for America will: help effect change in policies and practices to allow departments and agencies to better utilize these technologies; help coordinate communities to collaborate with the federal government on technology requirements; and raise awareness and create understanding among government leaders about the values and implications of open source software.

“Open source software can help deliver improved government service – plain and simple – and the administration recognizes this more than any in our nation’s history,” said David Thomas, principal with Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti and spokesman for the Open Source for America campaign.

With the U.S. Federal Government increasingly focused on utilizing and adopting technologies to better serve citizens, there is growing recognition of the freedoms that open source software and open technology solutions can provide. 

Current open source initiatives have experienced success in a variety of government agencies such as the National Security Agency, National Health Information Network (NHIN) and Federal Health Architecture (FHA), the Veterans Administration and the US Navy. Additionally, Gartner Inc. estimated that by 2011 more than 25 percent of government vertical, domain-specific applications will either be open source, contain open source application components or be developed as community source. 

Despite the growing interest in open source solutions, many organizations cite barriers to adoption including technical support, licensing, security and complexity concerns. 

Thomas acknowledges that open source software may not be a cure-all, but he believes it could save billions of dollars, help foster innovation and empower our government to work smarter.

Membership in Open Source for America is open to any individual or entity signing the campaign's mission pledge. Learn more at www.opensourceforamerica.org.

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