Rockefeller makes support for open source explicit

Rockefeller makes support for open source explicit

Summary: The danger in Rockefeller's legislative move is that open source could become a partisan issue, which it is not. It will be interesting to see if Republicans seeking funding for 2010 start soliciting donations from proprietary companies promising to "get government out of the software business."

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A few weeks ago, while writing about the open source hospital software company Medsphere, I mentioned that one of their success stories is in West Virginia and that the state's junior Senator, Jay Rockefeller (right), had placed into the Obama stimulus a study of open source in medicine.

Now he has made that support much more explicit with what he calls "The Health Information Technology Public Utility Act of 2009." The bill will be designated as Senate Bill 90.

The bill would create a Public Utility Board under NCHIT David Blumenthal to push a model of open source health software, offer grants to hospitals which adopt the model, ensure interoperability with other systems, and create quality measures for the software.

While introducing his bill Rockefeller did not mention Medsphere, whose software is installed at many state hospitals. Instead he focused on the Veteran Administration's VistA system, and the NHIN-Connect system for linking medical records installed by Harris Corp., which includes a lot of open source software from Sun.

The Commerce Committee was Sen. John McCain's power base during the first Bush Administration, and was then led by Sen. Ted Stevens before Rockefeller took it over when Democrats regained the Senate majority in 2007. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas is now the ranking Republican member. S. 90 is currently the lead news story at the committee's Web site.

Until now open source has mainly gained strength in government under the radar, where its advocates have often been outgunned by business interests with a contracting mindset.

The danger in Rockefeller's legislative move is that open source could become a partisan issue, which it is not. It will be interesting to see if Republicans seeking funding for 2010 start soliciting donations from proprietary companies promising to "get government out of the software business."

Topics: Open Source, Software

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  • What's the difference?

    You state:

    "While introducing his bill Rockefeller did not mention Medsphere, whose software is installed at many state hospitals. Instead he focused on the Veteran Administration?s VistA system, and the NHIN-Connect system for linking medical records installed by Harris Corp., which includes a lot of open source software from Sun."

    Sun is about to be gobbled up by Oracle, creating another monopoly...using Open Source.

    Then you say:

    "The danger in Rockefeller?s legislative move is that open source could become a partisan issue, which it is not. It will be interesting to see if Republicans seeking funding for 2010 start soliciting donations from proprietary companies promising to "get government out of the software business.""

    So it's a choice between the Oracle monopoly...or the Microsoft monopoly. There's a difference?

    IT_Guy_z
    • Open vs. proprietary.

      It has nothing to do with the company per se. It is whether or not you are locked into a proprietary model.

      So yes, there is a big difference.
      bjbrock
    • Open vs. Closed

      It does not matter what a proprietary company
      does with open source software. So long as the
      code is open and available, their lack of
      support merely provides opportunity.

      That's the difference.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Agreed, but...

        ...I wouldn't trust Larry Ellison not to try and make the code inaccessable.
        IT_Guy_z
    • Two armies fought at Gettysburg.

      "What's the difference?"
      kozmcrae
    • Really? Do you really wonder that?

      If you really don't understand the difference between a powerful player in the open-source business world and a powerful player in the closed-source business world, you also really shouldn't be speaking your mind about it.

      If a vendor becomes abusive, fifteen others will just take that source and open their own business based on selling it or support for it. There's no need to migrate anything since the code is exactly the same.
      daengbo
      • RE: Rockefeller makes support for open source explicit

        Until now open source has mainly gained strength in government under the radar, where its advocates have often been outgunned by business interests with a contracting mindset.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
        zakkiromi
  • this is how you make the stimulus work

    [i]"the state?s junior Senator, Jay Rockefeller (right), had placed into the Obama stimulus a study of open source in medicine."[/i]
    It is great that OSS is seen like an infrastucture project and is supported with tax dollars.
    Let's hope that this kind of great conservative ideeas won't be shut down by tax and spend liberals!
    The aid has to extend to making direct payments to FOSS developers.
    Linux Geek
    • "...tax and spend liberals!"

      Really?

      Well your former president oversaw more spending increases than the SIX previous presidents...and just a few of them were Republican.

      http://www.mercatus.org/PublicationDetails.aspx?id=26426

      And this from the Cato Institute...you know them...the CONSERVATIVE think tank in Washington, DC...back in 2006:

      "Republicans also have their own policies of big spending to blame. Tax cutting has been made more difficult because Bush has been the most profligate president in decades. In his first five years, 2001 to 2006, federal spending increased 45 percent and deficits have soared. It's tougher to convince the few centrist Democrats in the Senate to go along with making tax cuts permanent when federal red ink is gushing non-stop.

      The big spending policies of the Bush administration have been remarkably short-sighted economically and politically, as they have threatened Bush's primary domestic policy success of pro-growth tax cuts. For its part, the Republican leadership in Congress has gone along with, and often encouraged, the spending feast of recent years. There are only about 50 serious budget reformers in the 435-member House. For the rest, it's been a pork-barrel pigout in recent years."

      http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6621
      IT_Guy_z
      • Silly You

        You're mistaking GWB for a fiscal conservative?

        For the record Obama is not simply continuing the poor spending habits of the previous administration, he is matching them and raising them beyond anything this country has ever seen!

        And to add salt to the wound he is not pulling out of Iraq as he promised and he is ramping up war efforts in Afghanistan.
        mikefarinha
        • One picture is worth a thousand rants.

          http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x2678226
          kozmcrae
    • Someone snarky in the morning?

      I don't think you need to give direct payments
      to FOSS developers, but hiring some to work on
      open source projects delivered by government
      computers is important.

      If you're to deliver quality open source you
      have to invest in people as well as download
      code.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Don't mind him, Dana...

        ...Linux Geek is ALWAYS snarky. He/she is just a Neo-Con, whose party lost an election, and isn't coping with the loss very well.

        And I love pulling his/her chain. ;-)
        IT_Guy_z
      • That's exactly what I said

        The gov has to hire or pay FOSS developers to work on certain projects the same way universities get grants for research.
        Linux Geek
  • I've done my share of Health Care systems integration

    It's one thing to have System A talk to System B and have that communication (over HL7) bidirectional.

    Now, add System A through Z all able to have bidirectional updates to synchronize changes and you begin to see how 'complex' the web of interfaces becomes.

    Add to the mix that you have ANSI X12 interface standards (revisions) which are interpreted by proprietary software vendors and followed in varying degrees and you have the potential for an inconsistent 'hodge podge' that must be plumbed up.

    From a programming perspective this is challenging to say the least. Working with Vendors systems that are 'closed' leaves a lot of assumptions up to the vendor to publish and a black box. If those assumptions are wrong it might be years down the road before someone on the outside with no access to the code finds out that something is wrong with the plumbing.

    Proprietary vendors don't mind it being that way for many reasons--Copyright and IP rights to name just two--but open source is by its very nature would lend to the ability of coding compliance oversight.

    (You don't close up the walls in a new house with sheet rock until the building inspector comes and approves the work done, e.g., electrical wiring, partitioning, plumbing, etc., do you?)

    How can you certify programming compliance to new Health Care standards without open source?

    http://www.dtschmitz.com/dts/2009/04/creating-hipaa-compliant-medical-data-applications-with-aws.html

    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    http://www.dtschmitz.com
    Twitter: @dtschmitz
    no_zd_user_name