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CHIPS Articles: DON issues open source software guidance

DON issues open source software guidance
Navy and Marine Corps, defense and federal agencies invited to participate in open source effort
By Philip Lee - July-September 2007
The Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO) signed a DON Open Source Software (OSS) Guidance Memorandum June 5, 2007. This memo provides guidance for all Navy and Marine Corps commands regarding the use of open source software.

Achieving an interoperable net-centric environment to improve the warfighter's effectiveness through seamless access to critical information, is a critical Department of Defense (DoD) goal. A key piece in supporting that DoD goal is the ability to use OSS as part of the DON's information technology portfolio.

The memo focuses on removing barriers that may hinder the DON's ability to leverage the benefits of OSS methodology. The DON OSS guidance memo calls for DON commands to treat OSS as a commercial off-the-shelf product when it meets the definition of a commercial item, per Title 41, Chapter 7, Section 403. This allows the DON to use OSS throughout the enterprise when acquiring capabilities to meet DON business and warfighter requirements.

Leveraging OSS continues to increase throughout the federal government. Open source software use is widespread within the DoD in areas of network infrastructure, single-purpose computer servers, security, Internet and intranet applications, and network communications. The tactical, non-tactical, research and development, and test and evaluation environments all recognize the benefits of OSS.

To further this effort, the DON CIO plans to partner with the open source community. The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command successfully partnered with the Open Source Software Institute by creating a Navy Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (NCRADA-05-11) that represents a three-year joint research and development program that began in February 2005.

The agreement brings together Navy, industry and academic expertise to identify, document and facilitate the transition of open source solutions into selected naval enterprise architecture environments and Web services programs.

This effort between the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, industry and academia serves as an example of how open source software can be adopted in the strategic development and implementation of applications and services within the DON. The DON gains unique insights and the ability to leverage initiatives, like the NCRADA-05-11, with the issuance of the Open Source Software Guidance Memorandum.

Understanding the need to develop guidance and policy encouraging the expanding use of open source, the DON CIO chartered an Open Source Working Group (OS WG). The DON OS WG represents a cross-section of individuals from the DON information management and information technology, acquisition and legal communities.

Led by Timothy Johnson of the DON CIO Enterprise Services Management Team, the group will meet periodically to continue working on the DON's use of open source.

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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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