Open Source for America Publishes Federal Open Technology Report Card; Rates Agencies on Open Government and Use of Open Technologies

Departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation Rank Highest for Openness and Transparency; Use of Open Source Technologies and Open Formats Factored Heavily in Determining Rankings

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Government accountability requires open information processes best facilitated online, said John Scott, co-chair of OSFA's steering committee.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 13, 2011

Open Source for America (OSFA), an organization of technology industry leaders, non-government associations, and academic and research institutions promoting the use of open source technologies in the U.S. federal government, today published the results of a study measuring openness in government.

The Federal Open Technology Report Card evaluated key indicators of open government and open technologies developed through online crowd sourcing and refined metrics outlined by the OSFA leadership committee. These included questions regarding public budgets, use of social media, and open source technology practices.

2010 marked the first year federal government agencies were operating under the Directive and Open Government Plans, and the results are promising. Many of the agencies scored well, while others have room for improvement.

The Report Card assigned a percentage grade to the 15 Cabinet-level departments and agencies use of open source technologies, open formats, and technology tools for citizen engagement. Agencies that ranked highest based on the open source technology and open government criteria include:

  •     Department of Defense (82 percent)
  •     Department of Energy (72 percent)
  •     Department of Health and Human Services (55 percent)
  •     Department of Homeland Security (55 percent)
  •     Department of Transportation (53 percent)

The latter agencies include the Departments of Veterans Affairs (49 percent); Agriculture (47 percent); Housing and Urban Development (45 percent); State (44 percent); Treasury (44 percent); Labor (44 percent); Justice (43 percent); Commerce (40 percent); Education (40 percent); and the Interior (37 percent).

Formula and process
OSFA invited participation and review by agency representatives from the Administration's newly formed Open Government Working Group. Report Card results combine direct agency input as well as independent research conducted by OSFA.

All line-items required substantiation through publicly available government websites. This independent research was initially limited to public agency websites, recognizing that public access and transparency are inseparable in the government context. Answers to more than twenty-five questions determined the score of each agency, with the use of open source technologies and open formats weighing most heavily. This included items such as publishing public documents in open file formats, participating in open source software creation, and providing guidance on procurement policies surrounding open technologies.

The clear stand-out was the Department of Defense (DOD) which achieved the highest ranking of 82 percentile. The DOD has issued procurement policies for open technologies as well as guidance facilitating participation by government employees in open source projects. The Department is demonstrably ahead of the curve in recognizing the benefits and use of open technologies.

“The Department of Defense looks to adopt transparent policies and procedures in line with President Obama's Open Government Directive,” said Daniel Risacher, associate director, Enterprise Services and Integration, Department of Defense. “It is gratifying to be recognized by OSFA for the Department of Defense's commitment to openness and transparency, including the evaluation of technology choices.”

“Government accountability requires open information processes best facilitated online,” said John Scott, co-chair of OSFA's steering committee. “Open Source for America feels the results demonstrate a positive beginning. We hope government agencies will use the Federal Open Technology Report Card and its results to continue working toward the exchange of open information and the use of open source technologies and open formats within their departments.”

The table of raw data used to grade each agency is available for download at http://opensourceforamerica.com/photos/ReportCard-RawData.ods.

To join Open Source for America and help build support for the use of open source technologies, visit the OSFA website at opensourceforamerica.org.

Additional Federal Open Technology Report Card Resources

About Open Source for America
Open Source for America (OSFA) is an organization of technology industry leaders, non-government associations and academic and research institutions dedicated to advocating the use of open source software in the U.S. Federal government. Participation in Open Source for America is open to any individual or entity signing the campaign's mission pledge at: opensourceforamerica.org.

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