The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a final mandate on Monday requiring government agencies to release most of their code as open source.

The Federal Source Code Policy seeks to ensure that new custom-developed Federal source code will be made generally available for reuse across the Federal Government.

This policy also establishes a pilot program that requires agencies, when commissioning new custom software, to release at least 20 percent of new custom-developed code as Open Source Software (OSS) for three years, and collect additional data concerning new custom software to inform metrics to gauge the performance of this pilot.

According to OMB, enhanced reuse of custom-developed code across the Federal Government can have significant benefits for American taxpayers, including decreasing duplicative costs for the same code and reducing Federal vendor lock-in.

“By making source code available for sharing and re-use across Federal agencies, we can avoid duplicative custom software purchases and promote innovation and collaboration across Federal agencies,” said Federal CIO Tony Scott said in an Aug. 8 blog post announcing the final policy.

“By opening more of our code to the brightest minds inside and outside of government, we can enable them to work together to ensure that the code is reliable and effective in furthering our national objectives. And we can do all of this while remaining consistent with the Federal Government’s long-standing policy of technology neutrality, through which we seek to ensure that Federal investments in IT are merit-based, improve the performance of our government, and create value for the American people,” he added.

 

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