Obama Administration Considering Open Source in Government, McNealy Says

Lora Bentley

Open source technology makes a more secure government, says Scott McNealy. According to BBC News, the Sun Microsystems co-founder is preparing a paper on the subject at the request of the Obama administration.


"It's intuitively obvious open source is more cost effective and productive than proprietary software," he told the BBC. In fact, he's even suggesting that the U.S. go so far as to follow Vietnam's lead and mandate open source. "The government ought to mandate open source products based on open source reference implementations to improve security, get higher quality software, lower costs, higher reliability," he said.


President Obama has promised an open and transparent government, so it makes sense that open source technology could be a part of his strategy -- especially given that several different agencies already use open source to some extent. And open source could also save the government a lot of money, which is something else Obama has promised -- to go through the budget line by line.


Other open source leaders agree with McNealy. Open Source Initiative president Michael Tiemann told the BBC, "It's an accident of history that proprietary standards became so entrenched so early and it's been a colossal expense for government." He estimates technology costs to the U.S. at "$400 billion and upwards."


Just as in so many other areas, though, we'll have to wait and see just how the new administration will carry out its promises.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 22, 2009 11:20 AM Mike Young Mike Young  says:
That would be a good move. But of all the people to talk to... McNealy? Really? Last time I looked, Sun wasn't exactly the epitome of free software. They like those little strings to be attached. Reply
Jan 27, 2009 1:18 AM StevenK StevenK  says: in response to Mike Young

it is free as in freedom -- not free beer (how many times has that line been used to explain the concept?) .... Open as in I get to look at all the code... Not, "we will document some of the APIs so that you can use the program."

Jan 27, 2009 1:28 AM Bob Kaehms Bob Kaehms  says: in response to Mike Young

Steven Weber should be consulted on this.  He has written a wonderful

political analysis / history of open source.


Then some of the actual OS community leaders should be consulted as well

(In the spirit of Open Source.)

Finally, those that are looking to model the open source processes elsewhere should probably also get involved.


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