Should governmnet software be Open Source?

Brice, Richard BriceR at WSDOT.WA.GOV
Wed Mar 8 18:17:29 UTC 2000

Here is a question I'd like to get some thoughts on... Should software
written by our government be Open Source? After all, we pay for it. I think
we be given the opportunity to find new and creative uses for it.

I think open sourcing this software could also serve to make government more
accountable. Take for instance the software that determines who gets Social
Security, how much $$ they get, and then prints the checks. If this software
was open source, a watch-dog group could review that code and verify that
the government was making payments according to the rules. (What about the
software the IRS uses to select tax returns for audits?)

A local or state government agency that pays Workman Comp benefits could
take relevant portions from the Social Security check software and apply it
to their system, potentially saving tax payers money on the cost of

What about military software? Would national security be compromised if the
software for the guidance system of an ICBM was open source? Could a tax
paying corporation like Boeing make use of such software in civilian

What are your thoughts?

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