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Congress: Open-source for U.S. military

If you thought you'd never see the phrase"open-source" in a federal funding bill, think again. The House’s proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (H.

Open source
If you thought you'd never see the phrase"open-source" in a federal funding bill, think again.

The House’s proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (H.R. 5658) includes language that calls for military services to consider open-source software when procuring manned or unmanned aerial vehicles, according to Government Computer News.

In Section 143 of the House bill, which calls for the Defense secretary to set a strategy for procuring manned and unmanned vehicle systems, the objectives listed include “open source software code.” 

Although the language is confined to aerial vehicles, its implications are broader, according to a House Armed Services Committee report accompanying the measure:

“The committee is concerned by the rising costs and decreasing security associated with software development for information technology systems. These rising costs are linked to the increasing complexity of software, which has also resulted in increasing numbers of system vulnerabilities that might be exploited by malicious hackers and potential adversaries. The committee encourages the department to rely more broadly on [open-source software] and establish it as a standard for intra-department software development.”

 Whether the open-source mention will remain in the final measure remains to be seen. The House version of the bill was passed in May; the Senate debated its own version of the bill, S. 3001, last week.  GCN's Joab Jackson reports: "If the provision does survive, it could pave the way for greater acceptance in the defense community, which traditionally has been wary of open source, at least for official duties."

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