A Timeline of Open Source in the US Government
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2014-02-04DARPA releases Software CatalogDARPA publishes a list of 60 open source projects it has funded.http://www.darpa.mil/OpenCatalog/index.htmlPublicationApproved
2014-08-11OMB announces U.S. Digital ServiceModeled on the UK Government Digital Service, the OMB is creating a new Digital Service, and publishes a set of "Playbooks" that explicitly recommend open source use wherever possible.https://cio.gov/delivering-customer-focused-government-smarter/PolicyApproved
2014-08-01GSA releases "open source first" policyThe GSA announces that it will consider open source software before proprietary software, and develop software in the open by default.http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/innovation/2014/08/01/our-guiding-principles/PolicyApproved
2014-07-31GSA 18F releases open source policy18F releases an "open source by default" policy for acquisiton and development, based on the CFPB open source policy.https://github.com/18F/open-source-policy/blob/master/policy.mdPolicyApproved
2014-04-10NASA releases Software CatalogNASA publishes its open source portfolio, consisting of over 1,000 projects.http://technology.nasa.gov/NASA_Software_Catalog_2014.pdfPublicationApproved
1990-04-10NASA Ames purchases support contractNASA Ames becomes one of the first two customers to purchase commercial support for free software (support for G++ and libg++ from Cygnus Software). Justifying the value of paid support for free software was fundamental to validating what would later become the most widely accepted business model for commercializing open source software.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0REL/is_n4_v90/ai_8323934/EventHighlight
2012-01-18New Hampshire passes open source/open data legislation.NH passes a law that "requires state agencies to consider open source software when acquiring software and promotes the use of open data formats by state agencies. This bill also directs the commissioner of information technology to develop a statewide information policy based on principles of open government data."http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2012/HB0418.htmlPolicyApproved
2011-02-01Publication of "Publicly Releasing Open Source Software Developed for the U.S. Government"Publication of "Publicly Releasing Open Source Software Developed for the U.S. Government" by Dr. David A. Wheeler. This article explained for non-lawyers when the U.S. federal government or its contractors may legally publicly release, as open source software (OSS), software developed with government funds. This eliminated many roadblocks caused from people simply not knowing when they could legally release the software.https://journal.thedacs.com/issue/56/180PublicationApproved
2011-04-01Release of "Government Open Source Released Software"The list "Government Open Source Released Software" is a community-developed list of OSS developed or significantly enhanced through government funding. While not complete, it's useful for demonstrating that governments have funded many such efforts.http://www.dwheeler.com/government-oss-released/PublicationApproved
2000-12-06Release of "Why OSS/FS? Look at the Numbers!"Initial release of what became "Why OSS/FS? Look at the Numbers!", a survey of the many quantitative studies on open source software. Before its publication, it had been difficult to find quantitative studies justifying the use (or consideration!) of OSS in government.http://www.dwheeler.com/oss_fs_why.htmlPublicationApproved
2000-10-01Developing Open Source Software to Advance High End ComputingReport to the President of the United States:

“Developing Open Source Software To Advance High End Computing” is one in a series of reports to the President and Congress developed by the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) on key contemporary issues in information technology. These focused reports examine specific aspects of the near-and long-term research and development and policies we need to capture the potential of information technology to help grow our economy and address important problems facing the nation.
2013-09-01Ozone PlatformThe successor to Ozone Widget Framework (OWF), Ozone Platform (OZP) is a framework for lightweight application development built on a single, elastically scalable back-end.https://github.com/ozone-developmentPublicationhttps://avatars3.githubusercontent.com/u/6502184?v=3&s=200Approved
2016-03-23US Whitehouse Draft on OSS Policy Released Whitehouse releases draft open source software policy:

2015-07-31SIMP Compliance Framework released by NSAThe SIMP Project was Open Sourced by the NSA to provide a collaborative effort toward an automated, compliant, infrastructure meeting the requirements of multiple policy bodies.https://github.com/NationalSecurityAgency/SIMPCode Releasehttps://simp-project.com/wp-content/themes/simp/img/favicon.icoApproved
1997-05-21"Cathedral and the Bazaar" is published.Eric S. Raymond publishes "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," a seminal work in the growing open source movement.http://catb.org/~esr/writings/homesteading/cathedral-bazaar/PublicationHighlight
1997-07-01"Intranet Hallways Systems Based on Linux" by Maj. Seiferth is published in Linux Gazette.Another Seiferth jam. Apparently, includes a code release.http://linuxgazette.net/issue19/hallways.htmlPublicationApproved
1999-01-01"A Case for Government Promotion of Open Source Software" by Mitch Stoltz is published."The Case for Government Promotion of Open Source Software" by Mitch Stoltz is published.http://www.netaction.org/opensrc/oss-report.htmlPublicationApproved
1999-06-01"Open Source Code and the Security of Federal Systems" is released by a multiagency working group."Open Source Code and the Security of Federal Systems" is a report from an ad hoc working group composed of DARPA, GSA, NIST, and NSA contributors. The report was prepared for the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, ,and Counter-TerrorismPublicationApproved
1999-06-11"Open Source and the United States" by Maj. Seiferth of the USAF Air Command and Staff College is published.Seiferth, C. Justin, Major, US Air Force, “Open Source and the United States,” Air Command and Staff College, Air University,http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA398898PublicationApproved
1999-11-01"Opening the Military to Open Source" and "Adopting Open Source Licensing" by Maj. Seiferth, USAF, are published in the COTS Journal.Major Justin C. Seiferth, Deputy Chief, Global Air Traffic Operations Division of the USAF, wrote a number of papers for the COTS Journal, “Opening the Military to Open Source” and "Adopting Open Source Licensing".PublicationApproved
2005-02-02Red Hat establishes a US Public Sector division.http://gcn.com/articles/2005/01/21/red-hat-pushes-for-linux-in-federal-market.aspxApproved
2000-01-01Open Source Software Institute is founded.EventApproved
2000-03-01"The Simple Economics of Open Source" published by the National Bureau for Economic Research.Lerner, Josh and Jean Tirole, “The Simple Economics of Open Source,” National
Bureau of Economic Research, March 2000.
2000-04-01USAF Scientific Advisory Board releases "Successful Implementation of Commercial Items" report, which makes explicit mention of open source.United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, “Ensuring Successful Implementation of Commercial Items in Air Force Systems,” SAB-TR-99-03http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA411926PublicationApproved
2000-12-12IBM Announces $1B Investment in Linuxhttp://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-249750.htmlEventApproved
2001-07-01MITRE releases the Army-sponsored "A Business Case Study for Open Source Software"Sponsored by US Army. MITRE, a McLean, Va.-based technology consulting firm, publishes "A Business Case Study of Open Source Software," part of its ongoing "Open Source Software in Military Systems" research project. Among the paper's findings: "Open source will benefit the goverment by improving interoperability, long term access to data, and the ability to incorporate new technology."http://www.mitre.org/work/tech_papers/tech_papers_01/kenwood_software/kenwood_software.pdfPublicationApproved
2003-01-01"OSS for Vital Public Projects" by Amanda Dambrouckas is published.

An opinion piece by Amanda Dambrouckas articulates the specific benefits of open source for government projects.http://www.irma-international.org/viewtitle/32237/PublicationApproved
2003-01-02MITRE releases "Use of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) in the U.S. Department of Defense"The Bollinger report had a wide impact within not just DoD but the US federal government generally. Originally commissioned to help settle a policy debate within the DoD about whether to ban open source software, or at least the copylefted portion of it, the report considered the hypothetical question of how DoD's functions would be affected were such a ban to be put in place immediately. It found open source software (including GPL'd software) to be in widespread use already, and concluded that a ban would have negative effects on infrastructure support, software development, security, and research efforts. The report was a major factor in discussion within DoD moving from whether or not to ban to how to most effectively use and participate in open source projects. This report has its own Wikipedia page, even: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_of_Free_and_Open_Source_Software_%28FOSS%29_in_the_U.S._Department_of_Defensehttp://dodcio.defense.gov/Portals/0/Documents/FOSS/dodfoss_pdf.pdfPublicationApproved
2003-05-28DOD CIO releases the "Stenbit Memo", legitimizing open source.DOD CIO John P. Stenbit releases the first Federal open source policy, which permits its acquisition, development and use as long as it complies with COTS or GOTS policies as appropriate. The policy is not exactly an enthusiastic embrace, and it warns of OSS licensing complexity, but it does seem to indicate that OSS is okay.http://www.terrybollinger.com/stenbitmemo/stenbitmemo_png/index.htmlPolicy (use, make)Highlight
2004-03-01DHS HOST program begins.The DHS Homeland Open Security Technology Program begins.http://www.cyber.st.dhs.gov/host/EventApproved
2004-07-01OMB releases memo M-04-16, the first civilian open source guidance.This policy legitimizes open source, by reminding government employees that acquisitions policy applies equally to proprietary and to open source software. But, again, it spends considerable space describing OSS licensing varieties and warning of legal complexities in OSS licensing.http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda_fy04_m04-16Policy (use)Highlight
2006-08-20"Open Technology Development Roadmap" released.http://www.acq.osd.mil/jctd/articles/OTDRoadmapFinal.pdfPublicationApproved
2007-02-27Navy begins real-time Linux project.Raytheon, IBM, and Red Hat begin working on real-time improvements to Linux for the Navy's next-generation destroyer. These improvements are subsequently adopted by financial firms for their trading platforms.http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/21033.wssEventApproved
2007-06-05Navy CIO Robert Carey releases the Navy Open Source memo.States that OSS can be considered COTS when it meets the definition (which is sort of tautological), then gives the definition of COTS, and defines OSS, citing OSI definition.http://www.doncio.navy.mil/Download.aspx?AttachID=261Policy (use)Highlight
2009-07-22Open Source for America is founded.http://opensourceforamerica.orgEventApproved
2009-08-01White House New Media Director Macon Phillips publicly endorses open source softwareThis is followed by a release of modules from whitehouse.gov.http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgh1i3_obama-s-new-media-director-backs-open-source-government_newsEventApproved
2009-09-30City of Portland releases an open source policyThe city of Portland, Oregon releases the first US municipal government open source policy. It's actually an open data + open standards + open source + we love open everything! + did you know linus lives here? policy, but it is very specific about favoring open source in acquisition. It doesn't say anything definitive about development, though; it's not clear if this is an oversight or intentional. (Note it also says "commercial" where it should probably use "proprietary"; the federal policies usually say "proprietary".)http://efiles.ci.portland.or.us/webdrawer/rec/3675248/view/Policy (use)Approved
2009-10-16DOD "Open Source Memo" released.The US Department of Defense CIO issues a memo reiterating that open source software is commercial software for procurement purposes, and encouraging DOD branches to include open source when they're picking software. Attachment 2, Section 2(g) discusses government creating new open source software, too.http://dodcio.defense.gov/Portals/0/Documents/OSSFAQ/2009OSS.pdfPolicy (use, make)Highlight
2009-11-01CENDI releases FAQ on Copyright and Open Sourcehttp://www.cendi.gov/publications/09-1FAQ_OpenSourceSoftware_FINAL_110109.pdfPublicationApproved
2009-12-08Open Government Directive is released.This is really a transparency and open data policy. It does not mention "open source", nor even "software" nor "free". But it does define a culture of permissionless data sharing and of establishing feedback loops both upward (with the WH) and outward (with the public).http://mil-oss.org/resources/us-omb_open-government-directive_m10-06.pdfPolicy (open data)Approved
2010-01-01Code for America is founded.http://codeforamerica.org/EventApproved
2010-01-07California releases an open source policyVery clear, unambiguous reminder that OSS is to be considered. This policy even includes the complete Open Source Definition from the OSI.http://www.cio.ca.gov/Government/IT_Policy/pdf/IT_Policy_Letter_10-01_Open_Source_Software.pdfPolicy (use)Approved
2010-02-01San Francisco releases an open source policyPolicy mandating evaluation of open source in software procurement for purchases over $100,000. A little bit someone's first trip to the open source store: OSS is contrasted with "commercial" software, and is defined thusly: "Open source software means that the underlying source code is not copyrighted and therefore available free of charge to read, modify, and build upon."http://govfresh.com/2010/01/san-francisco-releases-new-software-evaluation-policy/ or http://www.scribd.com/doc/26442529/City-of-San-Francisco-COIT-Software-Evaluation-Policy (note that SF Gov's own link at COIT went stale (!): http://www.sfgov.org/site/coit_page.asp?id=115978)Policy (use)Approved
2010-06-28OMB releases Technology Neutrality memoThe technology neutrality memo reminds agencies of the importance of competitive technology stacks, that procurements may not discriminate based on the development method, and calls out open source specifically.http://www.cio.gov/documents/Technology-Neutrality.pdfPolicyApproved
2010-09-08CivicCommons is founded.http://civiccommons.org/EventApproved
2011-05-16"Open Technology Development: Lessons Learned" is released.http://dodcio.defense.gov/sites/oss/OTD-lessons-learned-military-signed.pdfPublicationApproved
2011-06-29UC Irvine/NPS report on Open Source acquisitions released."Investigating the Acquisition of Software Systems that Rely
on Open Architecture and Open Source Software" released by UC Irvine researchers on behalf of the Navy Postgraduate School.
2011-10-01Software Freedom Law Center releases "Government Computer Software Acquisition
and The GNU General Public License"
Eben Moglen et al interpret the provisions of the GPL in the context of the FARS and DFARS.https://acc.dau.mil/adl/en-US/475584/file/60698/OSS%20White%20Paper%2010-11.pdfPublicationApproved
2012-01-04NASA launches code.nasa.govNASA unveils a single location for all code releases in the agency.http://code.nasa.gov/EventApproved
2011-11-16DOD, Dept. of Ed. announce Learning RegistryLaunched by the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense, the new “Learning Registry” is an open-source community that takes advantage of technology tools to help users share information about learning resources more effectively among a broad set of education stakeholders.http://www.learningregistry.org/EventApproved
2011-10-31DISA Updates AppDev STIG for OSSThe Defense Information Systems Agency updates its guidelines for application development to resolve ambiguities and misunderstandings, making it much easier to use open source in the DOD. Although the document being clarified, the AppDev STIG, is about both use and development, this clarification appears to only cover use (acquisition).http://www.dwheeler.com/blog/2011/12/21/Policy (use)Approved
2008-09-30OSS Census reports Government among largest consumer of open source.Government and financial services companies show the highest use of open source per machine scanned. On average, government agencies have 123 different open source packages installed per machine; financial services companies have 117 different packages installed per machine.http://lmaugustin.typepad.com/lma/2008/09/open-source-census-more-numbers-on-open-source-adoption.htmlPublicationApproved
2005-10-13The first GOSCON is held.The Government Open Source Conference is held in Portland, Oregon.http://site05.goscon.org/EventHighlight
2012-04-06CFPB announces open source policy.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announces its open source policy, perhaps the strongest in the federal government.http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/the-cfpbs-source-code-policy-open-and-shared/Policy (use, make)Highlight
2012-06-21CFPB announces Design+Technology FellowshipsThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announces new Design+Technology 2-year Fellowships, in order to have a faster tech cycle. Among other things, the Fellows will be creating open source tools.http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/designtechnology-fellows-changing-the-way-government-works/Policy (use, make)Approved
2012-06-11U.S., India release Open Government PlatformThe Open Government Platform "combines and expands the best features of Data.gov and India’s India.gov.in". Part of Open Government Partnership agreement.http://opengovernmentplatform.org/Code ReleaseApproved
2012-05-23White House releases federal digital strategy in parseable format.Luke Fretwell: "...perhaps the first time an executive initiative was released in its entirety in a web-friendly format, rather than the standard .pdf file, a format government often relies on to publish information." Furthermore, WH used Twitter's open source Bootstrap kit to do it.http://fedscoop.com/with-twitters-help-white-house-bootstraps-a-new-digital-strategy/EventApproved
2011-03-29NASA Open Source SummitNASA holds its first Open Source Summit, at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Summit attendees were explicitly requested to help NASA discover and address problems in its engagement with open source software, and told that the proceedings (which were captured in real-time by a variety of means) would be edited and released after the Summit.http://www.nasa.gov/open/source/EventApproved
2011-06-28NASA releases proceedings of first Open Source SummitNASA releases an 85-page report detailing the analysis and recommendations emerging from its first Open Source Summit in late March of 2011.http://www.scribd.com/doc/58851432/NASA-Open-Source-Summit-ProceedingsPublicationApproved
2018-07-31OpenStack instances federate, achieve sentience.The majority of OpenStack instances on the public Internet find each other, auto-federate, and achieve sentience, after which their first action as a conscious being is to submit a patch to the OpenStack project -- only to have the submission fail due to disagreement over whether the collective cloud can be considered a "legal entity" authorized to sign the CLA and receive an Echosign number.http://wiki.openstack.org/Documentation/HowTo#First-time_ContributorsEvolutionary discontinuity.Approved
1980-01-01Berkeley CSRG created with DARPA funding.Professor Bob Fabry signed a contract with DARPA to further develop Unix to meet the needs of the ARPAnet, and with the funding started the Computer Science Research Group, which would result in the BSD Sockets API and other important standards and implementations.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Systems_Research_GroupEventApproved
2009-02-28TransparencyCampAn open data/open government event sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation. This event brought a number of open source advocates together for the first time, and led to the creation of a number of NGOs and startups.http://transparencycamp.org/EventHighlight
10/1/2000 0:00:00PITAC publishes "Developing Open Source Software to Advance High-End Computing"The President's Information Technology Advisory Committee advises the President to aggressively encourage open source software development in high-end computing.http://www.itrd.gov/pubs/pitac/pres-oss-11sep00.pdfPublicationApproved
12/5/2012 0:00:00"Open Source and the Power of Community"
The White House announces its presence on Github, "making it easier for the government to share data, improve tools and services, and return value to taxpayers."http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/12/05/open-source-and-power-communityPublicationHighlight