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Open Source Open Letter to Obama

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 10, 2009 - 11:30am

A group of prominent software vendors have signed on to an open letter to President Obama encouraging him to

...make it mandatory to consider the source of an application solution (open or closed) as part of the government’s technology acquisition process, just as considering accessibility by the handicapped is required today...

Ryan Paul at Ars Technica comments:

The Obama administration has expressed interest in evaluating the potential benefits of broader open source adoption in government IT, but it's unclear if its current approach will be able to produce sound policy guidance. The open letter, published Tuesday by a group of open source vendors, could help to impress upon the new president the potential benefits of formulating a strong strategy for open source adoption.

There is a lot of excitement about the new President, and I share the sentiment of the authors of this letter--it is extremely encouraging that the President has emphasized the importance of science and technology throughout his campaign and in his innaugural address.

In the library community, many of us have seen open source software in action. We've seen how this software can save money and faciliate a collaborative process where the open nature of the software leads to improvments in its efficiency and expansion of its functionality. We are also a community that appears to have the President's ear--after all, then-Senator Obama did give the keynote at ALA's annual conference in 2005 (and yes, now that he's President, I never miss a chance to mention that).

Still, excitement doesn't translate to policy specifics. We'd love to hear your thoughts on President Obama's technology policy, particularly as it relates to open source software.