CSIS Updates Open Source Policy Survey

The Center for Strategic & International Studies updated their latest survey of Government Open Source Policies for 2010, and it is again an outstanding report. From the introductory note:

This is the seventh update to the CSIS Open Source Policy survey. The survey tracks governmental policies on the use of open source software as reported in the press or other media. As with the previous efforts, we included only explicit statements of policy and did not count decisions by governments to use or purchase open source software, as this may only reflect a decision based on price or product, not on the basis of support for open source philosophies.

The data in this report provides a snapshot of the current state of government open source policy. We divided open source policies into four categories: research, mandates (where the use of open source software is required), preferences (where the use of open source software is given preference, but not mandated), and advisory (where the use of open source software is permitted). We also looked at whether an initiative was made at the national, regional, or local level, and whether it was accepted, under consideration, or rejected.

The study has found a total of three hundred and sixty-four open source policy initiatives.

I first encountered the CSIS documents when Red Hat began its own research into open source policies and initiatives, published as the Open Source Index in 2008. At that time the CSIS report had identified about 250 open source policies, so it's impressive to see a growth of more than 100 policies in the past two years. While some of these policies are smaller in scope, some are fairly major, setting forth national-level policies effecting trans-national IT transformation, such as the establishment of the Asia Open Source Software Center, which was created by joint R&D policies of China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Or the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which called for a study and report on the availability of open source health IT systems (Section 4104(b)).

Clearly there is a lot of open source policy being discussed, debated, and enacted today. And this is where your voice can matter: if you have an opinion or an insight that will help make better policy in the future, I can tell you that people all over the world are listening now. Bring your good ideas. Show your good code. By 2012 there may well be more than 500 open source policies identified by the CSIS. Let's work together as a global community to make them the best they can be--for open source, for the respective governments, and most importantly, for the people whom these governments serve!

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Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.