GSA’s Open Source First Approach Gives More Software Options, Better Savings

Billy Mitchell | fedscoop | August 6, 2014

The General Services Administration last week announced a new policy requiring open source software be given priority consideration for all new IT projects developed by the agency. And while some may question whether open source software will be as effective as its conventional, proprietary counterpart, Sonny Hashmi, GSA’s chief information officer, is confident this new IT model will put the agency in the best position to procure and develop software in the most cost-effective manner.

“There has been much written on the pros and cons of open-source platforms versus proprietary software platforms,” Hashmi said in an email to Fedscoop. “During the process of vetting new software, GSA plans to implement a process where open-source software is considered within the ranks of conventional software. We are confident that our vetting process will identify the best software for each IT solution based on the merits of the software, while also factoring in cost, support, security, and a myriad of other factors.”

GSA will draw on the open source successes of other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and its OpenFDA program. “When the Food and Drug Administration built out openFDA, an API that lets you query adverse drug events, they did so in the open,” Hashmi said. “Because the source code was being published online to the public, a volunteer was able to review the code and find an issue. The volunteer not only identified the issue, but provided a solution to the team that was accepted as a part of the final product.”...