Open source actively lobbies for a piece of the federal pie

In addition to Sun Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps and Federal Systems president William Vass, whose links are acknowledged, the board also has three Sun Federal board members -- former DISA CTO Dawn Meyerriecks, former DoD deputy CIO Marv Langston, and Arthur Money, who also sits on the board at Forbes.

A collection of open source vendors, including Sun, Ingres, and Red Hat, joined by the Linux Foundation, have organized as Open Source for America, saying open source deserves a piece of the U.S. government contracting pie.

Jackson Browne's not involved, but nearly every major luminary in the open source movement is. In addition to vendors, the group's board of advisors includes attorney Andy Updegrove, SFLC head Eben Moglen, Wired for Change co-founder Chris Lundberg, and publisher Tim O'Reilly.

The key player here, however, is Sun Microsystems. People affiliated with Sun and its contracting unit, SunFederal, dominate the group. This is not obvious just looking at their board of directors, but a little Google work brings it into focus.

In addition to Sun Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps and Federal Systems president William Vass, whose links are acknowledged, the board also has three Sun Federal board members -- former DISA CTO Dawn Meyerriecks, former DoD deputy CIO Marv Langston, and Arthur Money, who also sits on the board at Forbes.

There are 17 advisors in all.

The group says its mission is to educate the government about open source, and to change federal policies in order to allow more use of open source.

A press statement puts it this way:

The Obama Administration has expressed its desire to create an unprecedented level of openness in government and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration - all principles of open source.

That's tasty politics, but the group will still have its hands full with not only proprietary tech rivals but a host of contracting companies that have sprung up around Washington over the years, all with their own lobbyists.

It will also be interesting to see what happens after Oracle's acquisiton of Sun becomes final. Sun shareholders approved the deal last week, but it still has to gain regulatory approval.

I don't want to sound too cynical here. It's important that open source be represented in Washington, and that the movement's support for Administration goals be underlined.

I just wish the group's board were a bit, well, broader.

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