What the DoD now says about open source

Cut through the bureaucratese and you do have a remarkable turnaround in attitudes. Under the previous Administration contracting was the only way to go. Now officers are being allowed to try do it yourself solutions.

Open source can be compared directly with commercial software and it offers unique advantages for rapid prototyping and sharing across the military.

Those are the key takeaways in a new memorandum now circulating the Pentagon from deputy CIO David Wennergren (right).

While it's not a complete endorsement of open source, it does give people a green light to go get some.

The Wennergren Memo says that open source should be included in any market research on department needs, and also debunks some common myths that have been spread by commercial vendors:

  1. Open source places no restrictions on who can use it.
  2. Instructions against use of public domain code should not be interpreted to apply to open source, as government employees can fix bugs.
  3. It is not true that any improvements to open source must be distributed to "the community" (including potential enemies). They can be legally shared throughout the DoD under any open source license and kept there.
  4. Release of open source code can be controlled, and should be done when in the government's interest, when the government receives "unlimited rights" on upgrades, and where there is no law, like an export control, that might stand in the way.

The memo says additional information will be posted at the Defense Department Web site and encourages use of the official military software forge at http://software.forge.mil.

Cut through the bureaucratese and you do have a remarkable turnaround in attitudes. Under the previous Administration contracting was the only way to go. Now officers are being allowed to try do it yourself solutions.

That's a very big deal.