[PublicPolicy] Open Sourcing Government Code

Shimon Shore ShimonS at most.gov.il
Wed Jun 3 07:25:16 UTC 2020

See Below.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthias Kirschner <mk at fsfe.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2020 9:28 AM
> To: publicpolicy at lists.opensource.org; Shimon Shore
> <ShimonS at most.gov.il>
> Subject: RE: [PublicPolicy] Open Sourcing Government Code
> Hello Shimon,
> * Shimon Shore [2020-06-02 14:05 +0200]:
> > 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
> The security and the lock-in points are covered in the brochure
> https://download.fsfe.org/campaigns/pmpc/PMPC-Modernising-with-Free-
> Software.pdf
> page 16+17 in an infographic. Code quality and maintenance is something
> which is from my experience more difficult to explain. So it did not make it to
> our list.

I am not talking about lock-in. That argument is more about using Open Source solutions instead of buying proprietary ones.

When people know that others may look at their code it changes how they write the code. They make it more readable (ex. Better variable and function names), they stick more to standards. They write with the goal that others will be able to read, understand and modify it. 

They think more about how to make sure it is secure even when someone can read the code instead of hoping that people will not be able to break the code because it would be very hard to randomly find the coding flaws. 

They design the software in such a way as to separate general functionality (that can be shared and used by others) from things that are very specific to the application that is being written that is less useful to others.

> About the last point, I agree that it helps to attract a wider range of technical
> personnel for the public sector. Have to think about the start-up argument;
> until now the main point there was that you can work for some time for the
> public sector with the same tools you have worked before, and afterwards
> you can continue to do so in the private sector again. So your "market value"
> is not decreasing because you are using some tools which are very specific to
> the public sector.

Not only is it not decreasing but it is increasing as you get more experience coding in the open as is happening more and more at large companies like Microsoft, Google etc. Open Source is a powerful trend today in software development and the more experience one has with it the better.

Also, code that you have written is in the open and can be potentially reused by the programmer himself when he goes to a new company. 

Many young programmers, especially the top ones, have started programming already as a teenager and started out programming Open Source, either publishing their own stuff or contributing to projects. These programmers have formed an attachment to programming in the Open and do not want to go backwards.

> > 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.
> I am not sure I understand you here. If nobody else is looking at it, how is the
> quality improving and how do you make sure it is easier to maintain?

See above.
> > Some answers to your points are below.
> [...]
> Thanks for your clarifications.
> 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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