[PublicPolicy] Open Sourcing Government Code

Shimon Shore ShimonS at most.gov.il
Tue Jun 2 12:05:42 UTC 2020

I agree that code should be published by default. 

In addition to the arguments you have made I would say Open Source by default has the following advantages:
- Open Code is:
	- of better quality
	- is more secure
	- is easier to maintain
- Reduces dependency on the original programmer
- It is easier to attract high quality, younger programmers that prefer startups to government work

I like these arguments because they apply to all code - even code that is never used or looked at by anyone. They are a net benefit of the fact the code is Open Sourced. They also have monetary value to body paying for the development.

Some answers to your points are below.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthias Kirschner <mk at fsfe.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2020 9:20 AM
> To: publicpolicy at lists.opensource.org; Shimon Shore
> <ShimonS at most.gov.il>
> Subject: RE: [PublicPolicy] Open Sourcing Government Code
> Hellio Shimon,
> * Shimon Shore [2020-05-31 20:11 +0200]:
> > I appreciate all the well done materials. They are presented very
> > well.
> >
> > From what I have seen most of the material is about using Open Source
> > and much less about donating.
> To make sure I understand you correct: By donating you don't mean donating
> money to Free Software organisations (like OSI or FSFE) or projects, but
> publishing source code by the government?


> > I am specifically looking for arguments for governments to open source
> > their code beyond the moral argument (ex. Public Money, Public Code).
> Can you clarify with of the arguments you consider moral? E.g. the short four
> ones from publiccode.eu:
> * Tax savings - Similar applications don't have to be programmed from scratch
> every time.

This applies more to using Open Source and a lot less to publishing Open Source.

> * Collaboration - Major projects can share expertise and costs.

Applies to a relatively small number of projects.

> * Serving the public - Applications paid by the public should be available for
> everyone.


> * Fostering innovation - With transparent processes, others don't have to
> reinvent the wheel.

Applies to a relatively small number of projects. 

> > To play devil's advocate, the counter argument here is that since it
> > is Public Money it must be used in ways that benefit the public.
> > Creating repositories that no one looks at have no real value and is a
> > waste of taxpayer money.
> We heard that argument for many years and I agree that it is sad if code is
> just dumped somewhere. But my question meanwhile always is: what is the
> negative outcome of a simple code dump? How much does that cost?
> Now if only 1 out of 100 times another public administration can make use of
> (parts of) software from such a code dump, isn't that already a positive
> outcome?
> There is a huge disadvantage if people in public administrations have to
> evaluate the usefulness of code before publishing it, or that they would have
> to create a contributors community before they can do so. This adds too
> many additional steps which are nice to have but if not done might also
> prevent the publication of useful modules for others, decreases
> transparency towards citizen, and decreases information to be able to
> compete with existing implementations.
> So my recommendation would be to publish by default and if you have
> budget, motivation, skills, etc. take the other steps like making it easy to
> reuse and contribute to code (e.g.  by providing good readable license
> information https://smex-
> ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=https%3a%2f%2freuse.
> software%2f&umid=16dba73e-f8e7-4b08-97a7-
> 96f3cb856729&auth=4857ca8c79a7a678675ce78a9661ca9ab4da6309-
> 357d3f4a0d6fe88ce37069d859e0149c248c7591), documenting it, answering
> questions, including other contributors, etc.
> Best regards,
> Matthias
> --
> Matthias Kirschner - President - Free Software Foundation Europe
> Schönhauser Allee 6/7, 10119 Berlin, Germany | t +49-30-27595290
> Registered at Amtsgericht Hamburg, VR 17030  |(fsfe.org/support)
> Contact (fsfe.org/about/kirschner)       Weblog k7r.eu/blog.html

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