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OSCON 2009: Governments and open source

Aug 09, 2009, 03:03 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nathan Willis)

"Solutions to these barriers to entry involve both new ideas and old-fashioned legwork. OSI's Michael Tiemann observed that government's distinctive buying habits permit open source some additional advantages over proprietary software, for those who are looking for them. He cited the example of product retirement: government agencies are often restricted in how and when they can dispose of old technology (for security and budgetary reasons). In contrast, open source products that are deemed failed experiments or simply no longer needed can be disposed of easily. Hellekson concurred, noting that the US Department of Defense has recently acknowledged that breaking projects into smaller, modular chunks is more successful than the traditional large contracts.

"As O'Reilly pointed out in his keynote, though, getting open source products considered during the bidding process for most government contracts is primarily a challenge of persistence. There are many people with the skills to navigate the procurement processes, he said, but considering the specialization required, few are able or willing to make selling to a single customer (such as a national government) their entire career."

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