Open Source Government

I was listening to Obama’s financial speech on the economic stimulus package from GMU last week.  The thought occurred to me……open source.

People contribute every day to open source project s because they believe in a brand/product-line and they want to make it fit better with their needs. Why can’t we do the same thing for government technology.

There are few reasons why this might work

  1. Obama has indicated that he wants to improve government efficiency through better use of technology.
  2. Obama seems like a spender, but also one who likes to get good value for his money
  3. The most important factor – Obama has such high approval ratings and such high Kennedyesque “what can you do for your country” emotion that he could rally people to volunteer forthese projects.

I’m not suggesting that we do this for projects of high national security.  But for the myriad of projects that are not secret or top secret, it could drive innovation, speed, and capability by crowdsourcing.  Of course, there would be a need for some paid employees to do quality assurance on all the developed code in order to check for anything malicious or backdoor, but that would be better than having to build everything themselves.

Not only would this get the government free labor, but it would likely inject innovation and cutting edge thinking that government employees may not have, and it will make sure that the solution is something that the end-users want to use. It would be in essence “government by the people for the people”.

Is Obama doing anything like this?  Has any government tried it?

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