Should governmnet software be Open Source?

Derek J. Balling dredd at
Wed Mar 8 18:26:03 UTC 2000

Government-written and government-contracted software is NOT Open Source, 
but it IS Public Domain.

Knowing the differences is left as an exercise for the reader, but if you 
want the source code, a FOIA request would probably turn it up for you in 
short order.


At 10:17 AM 3/8/00 -0800, Brice, Richard wrote:
>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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