Defense Department Releases Open Source Memo

I’ve been holding my breath for so long waiting for this memo that I may not remember how to start breathing again, but here it is. The Department of Defense Deputy CIO Dave Wennergren has signed and released “Clarifying Guidance on Open Source Software.”


Written primarily by my friend Dan Risacher at the Office of Secretary of Defense the memo is intended to clear up common misconceptions and make it easier for DoD program managers to include OSS in their programs. Its goals are to improve agility, eliminate lock in, and reduce cost.

One of the memo’s key points comes from Dave Wheeler at IDA – OSS is considered “Commercial Off the Shelf” software as far as DoD acquisition rules are concerned and therefore OSS must be considered on an equal footing by law whenever a program is doing market research prior to technology selection.

Some will argue that it doesn’t go far enough by only encouraging and not demanding the use of OSS on government programs (I certainly have some sympathy for that point of view) but my hope is that this will at least provide some counter to the FUD machine – you know who you are – and keep moving OSS in defense toward a tipping point of acceptance.

By the way, if you are interested in open source in government and are in or near DC, make sure you check out GOSCON next Thursday, Nov 5. Dave Wennergren will be giving the breakfast keynote and you can ask him all about this memo.

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