FI Consulting: Implementing Reusable and Open Source Software

FI-Blog-OSS

By Nick Heitzman and Jon Hill, FI Consulting

On March 10th, Tony Scott, the U.S. Chief Information Officer, published a blog post titled Leveraging American Ingenuity through Reusable and Open Source Software and released a corresponding draft of the Federal Source Code Policy for public comment. In his blog post he argues the use of Open Source Software (OSS) across government agencies will save taxpayer dollars by promoting innovation and collaboration across Federal agencies. The new source code policy will require Federal Agencies to make 20% of source code for new software, developed for or by the Federal Government, available for sharing and re-use across Federal agencies. FI Consulting is positioned to promote this OSS initiative within both Federal Agencies and the private sector.

The use of OSS in private sector IT environments has doubled since 2010, and two out of three companies now have a policy of exploring OSS before looking into proprietary solutions. Roughly 78% of companies currently run all or part of their operations on OSS.[1]

Federal adoption of OSS will save tax-payers money. Managing software licenses and procurements is cumbersome and results in massive tax dollar waste. A December 2014 post from Federal Chief Acquisition Officer, Anne Rung, and Federal CIO, Tony Scott, stated, “Each year, the U.S. government spends more than $9 billion on software through more than 50,000 transactions, which results in a fragmented and inefficient marketplace.”[2] The GAO identified root causes of this waste for all major agencies which include poor tracking and software license inventory maintenance, software license data left unanalyzed, and insufficient training in software license management.[3] The use of OSS would not only eliminate direct software costs, but would reduce the burden of those tasked with managing software license costs.

OSS usage and development also attracts top talent, greatly improves the speed of innovation, reduces time-to-market, sidesteps vender lock, and can deliver superior security. Many government agencies such as 18F and the United States Digital Service have already begun creating innovative products using OSS.

OSS’ flexibility and growth are why FI is developing solutions using our favorite OSS including Python and R. The Department of Agriculture, Treasury, and Homeland Security, to name a few, are already leveraging open technology with us. Our government clients are trying to align themselves with the Open Government National Action Plan and to innovate as members of the OSS community. FI’s experience creating repeatable, scalable, and effective solutions strongly positions us to assist our clients in aligning with this initiative. Our experience within public and private sectors allows us to assist organizations in sharing code and best practices. FI Consulting supports the Open Government National Action Plan, and is eager to assist all current and future clients in developing solutions as we move toward an open source future.

Interested in learning more about how FI can help your organization develop open source solutions? Contact us at info@ficonsulting.com.

[1] https://www.blackducksoftware.com/news/releases/seventy-eight-percent-companies-run-open-source-yet-many-lack-formal-policies-manage

[2] https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/12/21/building-progress-improving-way-government-buys-it

[3] http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663560.pdf